The Cleveland Cavaliers took care of business with a one-sided 126-99 win over the Orlando Magic. The Cavs have now won eight straight and 12 of their last 15.
Stock Up: Merrill Mania reaches unprecedented levels
How much higher can Merrill Stock go? Wall Street might need to split the stock at this rate to get the price back to affordable. Merrill coming off the heels of an 18-point display, quickly one-upped his last performance by going nuclear for 26 points. Twenty of Merrill’s 26 points came in the first half while shooting 8-13 on threes overall.
Merrill is showing that he isn’t simply a gimmick player from the perimeter, he is a smart on-ball defender who can stick with his man by staying skinny on most switches. The true test for Merrill will be how he reacts to postseason defenses where opposing players will fight much more to stay with him.
Stock Up: Team basketball
Simply put, the Cavaliers are on an unprecedented streak considering what is currently missing from the roster. Between the ball movement and the defensive effort, this team is firing on all cylinders. The team during this eight-game win streak, is playing with a swagger that other teams are noticing.
Post-game Magic forward Paolo Banchero said, “We’ve played that team when they’re fully healthy, and a lot of these guys have a bunch of confidence.” It almost disarms opponents when teams are on a roll like we are seeing in this recent stretch. The Cavaliers in their last ten games rank as the best team in net rating, second in defensive rating, and sixth in offensive rating.
Stock Up: Jarrett Allen - double-double dawg
After his twelfth double-double in a row, Jarrett Allen has now set a Cavalier’s team record for most consecutive double-doubles. Allen, who after last post-season, probably had his stock at his lowest during his tenure with the Cavaliers, has rebounded (no pun intended) to make his mark on each game he has suited up for the Cavs.
Allen has been the backbone and tone-setter of the defensive effort the Cavs have exhibited throughout the eight-game winning streak. It’s clear that with the team missing Darius Garland and Evan Mobley other players need to step up and fit into certain roles. Allen is a player in particular who is thriving in his current role with the team.
J.B. Bickerstaff took time after the game to credit Allen for fulfilling and delivering in his nightly role with the skeleton crew Cavaliers: “Each of our guys is focusing and thriving in their roles, and J.A. is thriving in his role clearly.”