On Sunday afternoon, the Cleveland Cavaliers hosted the San Antonio Spurs in a matinee tilt. Cleveland was hosting a young rebuilding group in San Antonio, and following the game, the Spurs are now just 5-30 on the campaign.
The Spurs have their share of young talent, led by French phenom Victor Wembanyama, and in the game, things got a bit dicey down the stretch. After building up a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Cavs nearly let it slip away to the Spur's late rally and defensive effort.
Cleveland would pull the game out 117-115 in a contest that ended up being much closer in the last few minutes due to some disjointed Cleveland possessions and San Antonio playing hard for 48 minutes. Still, the end result was the Cavaliers riding a strong game from their bench and Jarrett Allen and grabbing a W.
For the Wine and Gold, it was their eighth win in their last 11 games, and they have started January 3-1. In the win over the Spurs, the Cavs would knock in 16 threes on a 37.2 percent shooting clip from beyond the arc, and they had 27 assists. Cleveland's biggest and best surprise of the season, Sam Merrill, had 18 first-half points and connected on five threes, and Allen continued his heater on the interior as well, as he had 29 points and 16 rebounds.
The First Cedi's Homecoming in Cleveland
One of the bigger storylines from Sunday's contest, however, was the return of Cedi Osman to Cleveland. Osman was involved in Cleveland's offseason multi-team sign-and-trade for Max Strus, sending the six-year Cavalier to San Antonio.
That said, while there were bumps in the road pertaining to Osman in his time with Cleveland, one cannot deny he gave the team his share of energy over the years, and he quickly endeared himself to the team and its fans. With those things in mind, leading into the contest and after, it was cool that Osman got his rightful shoutouts.
Before the game, J.B. Bickerstaff highlighted the joy Osman brought to the group, and his "infectious smile" was especially on-point, for one. Bickerstaff would also express how he gave the Cavs juice in his time on the floor, where he clearly made his presence felt as a shooter over the course of his tenure with Cleveland.
Osman was an easy guy to root for, and while they were teammates for just one season, Donovan Mitchell was a big fan of Osman's and often praised him for his bench contributions and how he gave the team a spark. Osman and Mitchell having a jersey swap postgame was another reminder of how Osman has always been a guy his teammates love.
A large contingent of Cavs fans will always adore Osman, who was the same, upbeat teammate all the time.
Osman had his inconsistencies throughout his time with the Cavaliers, and he did have his flaws, which led to some variance in his minutes-share over recent prior seasons. Defensively, he had some limitations as an on-ball player, was streaky as a three-point shooter, and was not going to be the most reliable shot creator when he was out there.
But all things considered, Osman carved out a nice tenure with the Wine and Gold.
In his six seasons with Cleveland, he averaged 9.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per contest, connecting on 35.4 percent of his 4.3 three-point attempts per game. Most notably, he's fifth in Cavaliers history in three-pointers made with 628, and despite some ups and downs partially due to strange minutes at times in the last few seasons, he was a player who could get the Cavs going.
Whether it was him bombing away from three, being on the receiving end of Kevin Love touchdown passes, or igniting a Cavalanche, Osman had his share of times where he got The Rock rockin'.
Perhaps above all else, though, was Osman's exemplary attitude, boyish charm and as Bickerstaff alluded to above, his "infectious smile." The Cavs gave Osman a short tribute video early in on Sunday in a stoppage, and he rightfully received an ovation, and it was just neat to have Cedi, who had nine points and six rebounds on Sunday, back in The Land.
Osman brought the energy for Cleveland on the floor, and for his glowing, humorous personality, he'll be beloved by so many of the Wine and Gold faithful. Maybe eventually, he could be back.