Sam Merrill, you are an NBA-level player. The way he moves off the ball is a skill only Max Strus can really provide. Merrill might even be better because he’s a better shooter. His movement denying Trae Young a hiding place on defense on top of how good he’s been has been another mark in his favor as he looks to get minutes still when the Cavs are fully healthy.
The Cavs have won seven straight and continue to hum along without Darius Garland and Evan Mobley. They are also all alone as the fourth seed in the East after Saturday’s NBA slate and within striking distance of the No. 3 seed. There is a course correction to come as the Cavs integrate Garland and Mobley back, but this team has fully elevated itself.
Also nice: Winning handily on a night where Donovan Mitchell was 6-17 from the field and 0-6 from three.
Max Strus is still contributing, but he’s in a funk as a shooter. He was 1-4 from three vs. the Hawks and is 3-25 from three over his last six games. It’s a run that came after he was 6-8 from three in a game against the Washington Wizards on Jan. 3.
Dean Wade took six threes in 25 minutes on Saturday. He made five of them. That’s three straight games of four-plus three-pointer taken after he went almost a month without taking more than three in a game.
If this trend from Wade continues, this is a big deal for his viability as a player. Far too often, he has looked hesitant and unsure of himself the moment the ball ends up in his hands. That is not the Wade of the last three games. The Wade of the last three games is a role player Cleveland should be more than happy to have.
Offensive rebounding has been a positive indicator for the Cavs in recent weeks. When they get offensive rebounds, they win. When they don’t, they lose. Tonight, they didn’t get offensive rebounds and still won.