The Cleveland Cavaliers had a busy week since last Tuesday, going 2-2 against a difficult slate of opponents. They split a home-and-home series with the New York Knicks, rediscovering their defensive verve in the process. A last-minute loss to the Indiana Pacers on Friday night set them behind the eight-ball for the new In-Season Tournament. Finally, they hosted the Golden State Warriors and knocked them around in an 11-point win.
What else has happened in the past week? Let’s dig into it all with the latest edition of Cavs News!
The most important headline from the last week is this: the Cavaliers are finally healthy. Not 100 percent; Ty Jerome remains out due to injury, and Ricky Rubio is out due to personal reasons. The key rotation players, however, as finally back on the court.
Jarrett Allen missed the first five games of the season coming back from an ankle injury, Darius Garland missed four straight with a hamstring injury, and all of Donovan Mitchell, Caris LeVert and Dean Wade missed a game each.
Having their preferred starting 5 all together unlocks one of the most potent lineups in the league, and having the right depth pieces behind them allows them to find success for an entire 48 minutes. The benefits of having that group healthy and playing were seen in the Cavs’ latest win.
The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers have quite the history, with the two teams meeting four straight times in the NBA Finals and the Cavs spoiling the Warriors’ 73-win season in 2016. In the regular season, however, the two teams have had a more lopsided track record. After beating the Warriors on Christmas Day in 2016, the Cavaliers dropped 12 straight regular season games to the Dubs.
That streak was broken on Sunday night when the Cavaliers knocked off the visiting Warriors, 115-104. The Warriors were scared out of the paint by the presence of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, and Donovan Mitchell dropped 31 points to lead the way for the Cavaliers.
Mitchell’s 31 points against the Warriors actually decreased his scoring average for the season. It was the fourth time this year he has gone for 30-plus in six games, and his scoring average currently sits at 32.5 points per game, which is tied with Joel Embiid for the league lead. Luka Doncic, Stephen Curry and Jayson Tatum are all just behind averaging 30-plus points.
Mitchell set a career mark with 28.3 points per game last season, and in the early-going he looks like he’s planning to set a new one this season. He’s been buoyed by hot 3-point shooting, knocking down 40.4 percent of his 9.5 3-point attempts per game, but he is also finishing at a scorching 64.4 percent from 2-point range.
Bleacher Report just ran a full mock draft as the college basketball season kicks off. The Cavaliers will have their first-round pick this year after giving it up in the 2023 NBA Draft. This mock draft had the Cavaliers taking a Duke guard for the first time since drafting Kyrie Irving first overall in 2011, drafting freshman Jared McCain.
McCain is one of the best shooters in his freshman class, but he has shown early on that his tight handle and savvy understanding of spacing on the court will make him a multi-faceted guard. He doesn’t have elite athleticism or size (6’3″) but that’s also why he would be available near the end of the first round, which is where the Cavs will likely be picking from next June.
Max Strus was the Cavaliers’ top target this summer for one reason: he can get up 3-point shots. Yes, they would like him to make as many as possible, and yes he brings other things to the table other than just shooting. The primary reason, however, was to be willing to shoot at all times in order to exert gravity on the court and open up space inside.
So far, so good. Strus is shooting just 29.5 percent from deep, a number that should (hopefully) improve as the season goes on. More impressive, and important, is that Strus is getting up 8.7 3-point attempts per game, and his 61 total attempts ranks sixth in the entire NBA (and four ahead of Mitchell).
If Strus keeps up this volume and stays mostly healthy all year, he will shatter the franchise record for 3-pointers attempted, as set by Mitchell last season (Mitchell is on track to easily clear his own record, too). He brings an element of volume and gravity this team simply did not have last year.
The NBA G League season gets underway this weekend, which means it will be opening night for the Cleveland Charge. This year’s team is absolutely loaded with talent and players that will be familiar to fans of the Cavaliers. The Cavs’ two-way players will spend time with the Charge: Emoni Bates, Isaiah Mobley and Craig Porter Jr.
In addition, the Cavs had a number of players in training camp who took the extra guaranteed money to stick with the Charge, including Sharife Cooper, Justin Powell, Pete Nance and Zhaire Smith. The season begins on Friday as the Charge host the Wisconsin Herd.
Here’s a round-up of articles you should read from this past week:
- Caleb Crowley took his weekly look at the Cavaliers and handed out his “Crowley’s Crowns” for the week
- Josh Cornelissen looks at the entire NBA and ranks all 30 teams. Where do the Cavaliers fall in the Power Rankings after their injury-riddled start?
- The Cavaliers haven’t had the defensive start they wanted, but are there signs of optimism? Mateo Mayorga breaks down the Cleveland defense through seven games.
- The Chicago Bulls have faltered to start the season, which could lead to some veterans hitting the trade market. Who could the Cavaliers target to upgrade their team?
- Which Cavaliers players are out to strong starts, and which one needs to find a way to turn things around? Josh Cornelissen looks at the stocks of some key players.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are back in action on Wednesday night, starting a four-game road trip out West. They have rematches with the Oklahoma City Thunder (Wednesday) and the Golden State Warriors (Saturday) before facing off with Sacramento and Portland next week. Both the Warriors game and the Kings game will be on NBA TV.