It’s time to unleash the dog: Cavs’ Lamar Stevens should be here to stay

Darius Garland and Lamar Stevens, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)
Darius Garland and Lamar Stevens, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) /

Great teams have a great mentality. For the past two seasons, we have seen the junkyard dog mentality this Cleveland Cavaliers team has. It is a big reason why this team has been able to jumpstart their rise to contention.

This mentality has overtaken this entire organization from top to bottom, so much so that the Cavs have their lauded Junkyard Dog Chain that they give to the player that gave the most energy, effort, and hustle in any given game. No player embodies this attitude more than Lamar Stevens.

Stevens had an enormous impact for the Cavs on Monday night, and he should firmly be in the rotation from here.

This last game was supposed to be an easy win for the Cavs. The Boston Celtics were coming off of a double-overtime loss to the New York Knicks the night before. Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Robert Williams were all out. The Cavs were at home. This was supposed to be a layup for them. It was anything but that for the Cavaliers all evening.

Boston was up 12 at halftime and extended their lead to 15 at one point. Every time the Cavs made a mini run, the Celtics had an answer. They were dead in the water heading into the fourth quarter down 14. Then head coach J.B. Bickerstaff called on his junkyard dog: Lamar Stevens.

Stevens had oddly not touched the court in the first three quarters, aside from nine seconds. He did not come out the entire fourth quarter and overtime. In the 17 minutes Stevens played, the Cavs outscored the Celtics by 18 points. In those 17 minutes, Stevens had 6 OFFENSIVE rebounds.

He was aggressive and smart on offense, hitting a huge three in overtime to put the Cavs up two. He was also aggressive on defense, a huge reason why Jaylen Brown cooled off in the fourth quarter and overtime. Stevens played with the energy and fire that the Cavaliers needed in a game where it seemed like Boston had more fight in them.

However, for those 17 minutes, Stevens matched their fire and then some. He finished with 8 points and 8 rebounds on 3-of-5 shooting. He saved the Cavs on a night where they needed saving.

The Cavaliers are a young squad looking to make some noise in this year’s postseason. Unfortunately this team lacks the playoff experience most teams will have in the East. What will carry them is their junkyard dog mentality and being willing to scrap and fight until that final buzzer.

They need players like Lamar Stevens to be constants in the rotation and provide them with energy night in and night out. Coach Bickerstaff, I hope you heard the barking loud and clear.

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Lamar Stevens needs to STAY in the rotation. Let the dog be unleashed.