Stock Up: Cavaliers point-of-attack defense
The two pillars of this Cavaliers’ team without Darius Garland and Evan Mobley have been stellar defense and volume three-point shooting. They came out aggressive on both sides of the ball early and showed no signs of slowing down. As Jarrett Allen described post game “We really set the tone (defensively)”.
Damian Lillard was smothered all game as the main cog of the Bucks’ offense and felt the effects of being shadowed by Isaac Okoro and company all night. Lillard was held to 17 points on 7-20 shooting, while only getting to the charity stripe three times last night. It’s evident the Cavaliers are leaning on their defensive roots and it is clearly working.
Stock Up: Georges Niang putting on his best Sam Merrill impression
To say Georges Niang had a good shooting night would be an understatement. If the effort set the tone defensively for the Cavaliers, Niang set the tone offensively. Niang quickly went out and closed any window of hope for the Bucks by converting his first eight shot attempts. He stamped his presence on the game late in the second quarter. It appeared as if Milwaukee might stage some form of a comeback, only to watch Niang hit four threes to close out the quarter with a 66-41 difference. Niang finished the game with a career-high 33 points on 13-14 shooting, going 5 for 6 from three.
Stock Up: Donovan Mitchell remaining a Cavalier through the 2023-24 season
ESPN ran a segment during their broadcast of the game that discussed trade targets and candidates. Donovan Mitchell’s name came up during this. NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski provided insight on where the Cavaliers stand on the thought of trading Donovan Mitchell midseason. Describing when speaking to team sources on the validity of the idea of trading Mitchell, Woj stated how the sources responded with “lose my number on Donovan Mitchell”. It looks like, believe it or not, the team that has won 11 of its last 14 games might decide to retain its all-NBA-level superstar.
Stock Down: ESPN’s mainstream Cavaliers’ coverage
ESPN’s downfall has been well documented over the years, however, their overall inability to present the teams they are covering on their flagship NBA show is a little dumbfounding. Rather than describe the impressive stretch of games for the surging Cavaliers, they narrow down their lens to speaking about the self-created Mitchell trade rumors and a bunch of fluff. Not to mention the appalling graphics and stats they chose to pump out.
“Lost 6 out of previous 11” ?! pic.twitter.com/Ua1pFPnPaS— Carter Rodriguez (@Carter_Shade) January 18, 2024
Maybe over the season, ESPN will cover the Cavaliers correctly. For now however, it is all about the TMZ style of gossip that the “worldwide leader” chooses to use to “inform” the national audience.