The Cleveland Cavaliers closed out a tight game against the Los Angeles Clippers with key stops at the end of the fourth to pull away late.
Donovan Mitchell’s All-Star momentum. Mitchell is mounting quite a case to be an All-Star again throughout this impressive stretch of games.
Against a potential NBA Finals contender in the Clippers, Mitchell came out strong in the first quarter with his fingerprints all over the Cavaliers’ offense. Donovan contributed 20 of the Cavaliers’ first 28 points in the first two quarters.
Mitchell continued the trend of orchestrating the offensive rhythm by operating as a release valve when the offense was congested at times. Especially, in the closing minutes of the game. Mitchell finished with 28 points and 12 assists.
Isaac Okoro’s overall growth. J.B. Bickerstaff alluded to it in the post-game (while admitting bias), but Okoro’s functionality as a point-of-attack defender is truly near, if not at the top of the league.
Tonight was a great example of how effective and disruptive Okoro is when you place him with a variety of elite offensive talent. We saw during stretches of this game Isaac matched up with James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George. Okoro has a knack for sticking with all types of offensive play styles and truly wreaks havoc on isolation-heavy players in particular.
Okoro also came out swinging offensively. The level of comfort he displayed tonight shooting the ball is something that we have not seen very frequently, if ever. In the seasons prior, we have collected more than enough evidence of Okoro not showing the confidence needed to pull from range when he has enough space to do so.
Tonight, it was evident that Okoro not only feels comfortable — but has a good offensive feel, as well. When he was not knocking down perimeter shots, he was cutting to the basket off the ball.
If this type of play from Okoro continues, he will be a very dynamic player for the Cavaliers down the stretch.
Dean Wade’s impact. Evan Mobley’s return meant that the Cavs were going to have one of the starters from their hot streak start the game from the sidelines. Wade was the casualty, and it did not disrupt the momentum he had been building in his time as a starter.
Wade seamlessly fell right back into the flow he displayed during his time with the starting five. He finished the game as Cleveland’s leader in plus/minus due to his effectiveness on both sides of the ball.
Wade has to find ways to contribute with fewer minutes available as Mobley comes back to speed. It will be a huge plus for the Cavaliers if the depth that they appeared to build while Darius Garland and Mobley were out can last. Even when the stars return to their regular workload.