It's been a season with bumps in the road for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and they couldn't find cohesion early. The Cavaliers didn't get off to a great start initially, and they looked out of sorts.
Although in fairness, the Cavaliers have started to figure things out along the way, and even with their injury woes, this group seems to be coming together.
Now, nobody wanted the likes of Darius Garland and Evan Mobley to sustain injuries, and they are both still set to miss extended time. But, to the Cavs' credit, they have righted the ship, and despite the constant changing of starting units game-to-game, this team has won 10 of its last 15 contests.
This past week, the Cavaliers were also able to win three of four contests, and they capped the week off with a 109-95 W at the Chicago Bulls. In a game where the Cavaliers were down their top four scorers on the season, Cleveland won in a resilient manner, and part of the reason for that was the Cavs outscoring the Bulls 30-4 in second chance points.
Part of the reasoning for Cleveland hanging tough recently, despite being shorthanded, has been the play of the Cavalier bigs. Jarrett Allen and Tristan Thompson have stepped up, and they've helped set the tone for the Cavaliers. Allen was a driving force for the Cavaliers' comeback victory at the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night as well.
Allen and Thompson have been setting the tone, and leading by example for the Cavs recently.
Allen has had 14.0 points and 10.7 rebounds per game in his last 12 appearances, and against Dallas, he had 24 points, a whopping 23 rebounds, and he was outstanding defensively, and more than held his own when needed in switchout situations versus Luka Doncic. Allen has been giving the Cavaliers multiple-effort plays regularly on both ends of the floor, and it's paid dividends.
Allen didn't have the best start to the campaign, partially because of him missing preseason and the season's first five games because of a bone bruise in his ankle, but as he's gotten more and more comfortable, he's been back to his solid play.
Without Mobley involved, the Cavs have needed that hustling and activity on the glass from Allen, and he has made his imprint defensively in some key stretches in games with his shot altering and high hands. On offense, Allen has given Cleveland a continual interior presence as well, which has given the club some needed rim pressure to balance out often having four perimeter threats on the floor with him.
In Thompson's case, though he's not going to log nearly Allen's splits, with Thompson being in a much smaller role, he has also given the Cavaliers some much needed energy in bench spurts.
Defensively and on the glass, Thompson still gives the Cavaliers quality minutes, and similarly to Allen, Thompson extra efforts have kept possessions alive. And especially with this group being without Garland, Mobley and Mitchell of late, those little things become huge in his minutes.
In his last 10 appearances, Thompson has not lit up offensively, in averaging 5.3 points over that stretch. But he's averaged 5.1 rebounds in that span, and his interior defense and rim protection have made operations tougher for opposing offenses, and Thompson's veteran presence helps get rotators on the same page.
While what they've brought isn't going to be as dazzling as shot creation from Mitchell or Caris LeVert at times, or shooters like Max Strus, Allen and Thompson's contributions have been invaluable for Cleveland in recent weeks.
Despite the Cavs being without a few key guys, what players such as Allen, Thompson and Craig Porter Jr. have been providing has been enormous for the Wine and Gold, who really found new life it seems. This Cleveland team is always going to be predicated on a team-first mentality, and Allen and Thompson truly embody that.