With Cleveland’s 128-105 victory over Atlanta this week, they’ve officially failed to make it past the group stage of the tournament. While this was a victory, and a sizable one at that, Cleveland needed to win by well over 30 due to the performances of other teams in their group. An interesting aspect of these games, despite the extremely small sample size, is that it’s the closest thing to postseason play at this early point of the season. So, with that in mind, here’s the Cavs 2023 In-Season Tournament Review, including the Cavaliers In-Season Tournament MVP, standout secondaries and takeaways.
While only playing two of the four games due to injury, Mitchell performed well. In the first game (November 3 against the Pacers) he scored 38 points to go with nine assists and five rebounds. In the second (November 28 against the Hawks) he scored 40 points with 11 rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block. He played so well in this game, in fact, that he committed six turnovers and still managed to finish with a plus/minus of plus 29. The turnovers are a major issue for this team, but they can almost always rely on Mitchell to score.
Garland, one of the players to play in every game, was effective in each. He scored 14, 32, 19 and 14, respectively. This gives him an average of 23.3 points. He also managed to find nine, eight, eight and three assists, respectively, giving him an average of 7 per game.
Cavaliers In-Season Tournament MVP
The most valuable player in these games for Cleveland has to be Evan Mobley. He also played in all four games, and in all four games achieved a double-double (once even before halftime). This gave him an average 16.8 points and 12.8 rebounds. To go with this he was a nuisance in the paint to opposing teams, racking up 12 blocks in three games. If this is the kind of play Mobley employs in the postseason, it will be a drastic difference from last season.
Georges Niang was quietly able to make things happen for Cleveland in these games as well. Averaging 11.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, he wasn’t scoring all over the place or nabbing every board, but this consistency is something that can be extremely beneficial. Another player who looked good was Craig Porter Jr. Although he missed one of the games, and put up a two point-two turnover performance with plus/minus of minus eight, the games he played well he contributed all over.
Cleveland was able to snag three of the four games they played, including one overtime victory against Philadelphia. This indicates that when the games matter, Cleveland puts the effort in to win. This is evidenced by the fact that they kept their starters in toward the end of the Atlanta game despite the point difference. While technically breaking an unwritten rule, it was in an attempt to run up the score in order to secure a wild card spot in the tournament. It didn’t work out this time, but the effort does not go unnoticed. The one game they did drop was to the Pacers in Indianapolis. While the Cers aren’t the best team this season, they do have a lot of potential and seem to always give the Cavs a hard time at home (even in the Lebron eras).
Again, it’s an extremely small sample size (equal to the shortest possible length of a playoff series) but at this stage it does indicate some things about this team. They’re not only able to survive but play really well while dealing with injuries, the core is reliable in big games, the bench players can be consistent with their production and when needed the coaching staff will get creative in their approach to victory. All things that should come in handy during the postseason.
Featured photo courtesy of NBA.com
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