The Cleveland Cavaliers defeat the Portland Trail Blazers 109-95. Though still dealing with injury, the Cavs were able to snag a dub in Portland Wednesday night. Here’s a look at the highlights for Cleveland.
Since Darius Garland is still out with injury, Cleveland went with a starting lineup of Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus, Dean Wade, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen.
Although Portland got out to a quick three point lead, this one was primarily controlled by the Cavs. There were only five lead changes throughout the contest, and that three points would be Portland’s largest lead of the night. Cleveland, on the other hand, led by 18 at one point and finished the night ahead.
Mitchell continues his outstanding play, finishing with 34 points, six rebounds, four assists and a steal. Not only is his passing improving, but it’s improving his opportunities to score. There was a moment with about eight minutes and thirty seconds left in the fourth where Mitchell was approaching the key with the ball. To his left is Georges Niang outside the arc and Strus in the corner. To his right is Mobley cutting towards the basket and Wade trailing on the wing. Portland’s defenders ease up on Mitchell a little (anticipating a pass) giving him just enough space to pull up and hit a deep three. This is a play that highlights the significance of both Mitchell’s offensive ability, and the breadth of shooters signed this season in regards to how Cleveland can succeed going forward.
Caris LeVert is making an early case for sixth man of the year. He finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals. His ability to slash to the basket and make incredibly acrobatic moves to create space have been high points for the Cavs all season. Don’t be surprised if he eventually works his way into the starting lineup.
Mobley and Strus also had impressive outings. Mobley finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, three blocks and a steal (another double-double) giving him a plus/minus of plus 26. Strus finished with 14 points, seven assists, three boards and a steal. He turned the ball over five times, but managed to put up a plus/minus of plus 25 (second highest of the night behind Mobley). He also had an impressive dunk.
Jarrett Allen had a decent evening, finishing with 11 points, nine rebounds, an assist and three blocks. He also had three turnovers, however, placing his plus/minus for the night at an even 0. He is playing more physically in the paint than he has been, though, which is a much needed improvement.
Despite the fact that Portland isn’t necessarily a litmus test for the entire league, Cleveland looked good offensively. They scored 60 of their 109 points in the paint (while holding Portland to only 36 in the paint). They also grabbed 20 total points in fastbreaks. This is a feature of this team that is steadily looking better and more effective. This win puts them at 5-6.
Although they still need to work on turnovers (giving up 17 this time) Cleveland advances with another win.
The Cavaliers play the Detroit Pistons this Friday night (17 November 2023) at 7:30 PM. This will be Cleveland’s second NBA In-Season Tournament game, and they hope to take down the 2-10 Pistons on their (specially designed) home court.
Featured photo courtesy of NBA.com
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