In a matchup against formidable rookie San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama, it was up to Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley and center Jarrett Allen to decide whether the Cavs could go "big" or go home.
The duo showed flashes of brilliance as they combined for 54 points and 26 rebounds in Cleveland's 117-101 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday. They dominated the interior as they racked up 36 points in the paint and hit 70 percent of their shots within fi. Guard Donovan Mitchell, who recently earned his fifth All-Star selection during his seven-year career, tacked on 31 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two blocks.
Mobley hit three three-pointers as he continuously found easy catch-and-shoot attempts at the perimeter. The former All-Defensive First Team selection hit two 3-point shots on six occasions last season, including both of his tries in a 23-point, 11-rebound outing against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Mobley attempted a total of 102 shots from beyond the arc during Cleveland's 2022-23 campaign and 208 in his three-year NBA career.
"I love to see [Evan Mobley] shooting threes with confidence. I do think there was a little bit of a message being sent to everybody. Our big guys are pretty good. Between him and [Jarrett Allen], the job that they did tonight, I think they stepped up. They wanted to prove a point as well."- Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff.
The Cavaliers must prove they can go big again when they take to their home court to face Domantas Sabonis and the Sacramento Kings on Monday.
Led by the duo of guard De'Aaron Fox and center Sabonis, Sacramento stands at 29-19 this season, good enough for fifth place in the Western Conference and second in the Pacific Division. The Kings will end a lengthy seven-game road trip when they take to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in what will be their 12th road game in 14 matchups.
Fox and Sabonis both earned All-Star selections during the 2022-23 season. Sabonis, a three-time All-Star and one-time All-NBA selection, is averaging 19.9 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists per game this season. He has averaged 23.5 points, 11.3 rebounds and 10.8 assists per game against Central Division squads this year, highlighted by a 37-point triple-double against the Detroit Pistons in early January. Fox has averaged 33 points and 53.3 percent from the field in his last two games, including a 41-point outing in a Saturday win over the Chicago Bulls.
A well-rounded Cleveland offense that saw seven Cavaliers score in double-digits wasn't enough to hold off a 12-point loss in their last matchup against Sacramento. Fox led the Kings in scoring with 28 points in the 132-120 win at the Golden 1 Center, while Sabonis added 23 points and 10 assists. The Kings hit 59 percent of their field goal attempts and 47.6 percent of their 42 three-pointers in the November matchup, countering Cleveland's near-50 percent mark from the floor.
The Kings have found their footing after seeing a four-game slide in January. They have won six of their last seven games with two recent wins over Cleveland's midwestern rivals in the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers. Fox added four assists and five steals to his 41 points in 35 minutes of play in their win over Chicago, and Sabonis added a triple-double and team-highs in rebounds (14) and assists (10). It would be the team's fourth win over a Central Division squad and its 11th against an Eastern Conference opponent this season.
The Cavs have done an impressive job at defending their home court since the start of the New Year. They have yet to lose a game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse since the turn of the calendar year, pushing their home record this season to 17-8 after starting their 2023-24 season with an 0-3 record on their home floor. It will take the stellar play of Cleveland's bigs, along with Mitchell and guard Darius Garland, to keep the streak alive against the Kings.
The Cavs will tip off against the Kings at 7:00 p.m. EST on Monday in Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The game will be broadcast on Bally Sports Ohio.