The Cavaliers now have a record of 4-6, winning two of their last five. Through 10 games, four Cavs average 10 points per game, evidence of a fairly balanced unit. Despite the balanced scoring, the Cavaliers rank 29th in the NBA in assists. Thankfully, Kevin Love is no longer the team’s most proficient passer as Darius Garland has taken up that mantle with a pedestrian 3.7 assists per game. The Cavaliers have not been putrid, but they do not seem to be playoff contenders quite yet.
Here is a quick look at each game so far.
Game 6: Mavericks 131, Cavaliers 111
Points: Love 29
Rebounds: Thompson 12
Assists: Knight 6
Steals: Thompson/Garland 2
Blocks: Love/Thompson/Osman/Clarkson 1
3PM: Love/Clarkson 5
MVP: Kevin Love (2)
A game that was close for three quarters, the Mavericks pulled away with a 41-25 spurt in the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers were porous defensively, letting the Mavs shoot 53 percent from the field and 49 percent from the three-point line. On the contrary, the Cavs shot a subpar 41 percent from the field and hit 38 percent of threes. Kevin Love was electric, keeping the Cavs in the game with his five triples on 11 attempts, a 46 percent clip. Tristan Thompson and Collin Sexton had their struggles as Thompson hit only four of 10 shots and three of nine free throws, and Sexton shot an abysmal 29 percent. The Mavericks were led by sophomore sensation Luka Doncic, who posted 29 points on 53 percent shooting and added 15 assists and 14 rebounds to notch a triple-double.
Game 7: Celtics 119, Cavaliers 113
Points: Sexton 21
Rebounds: Thompson 13
Assists: Thompson/Clarkson 4
Steals: Osman/Love/Garland 1
Blocks: Love/Clarkson 2
3PM: Osman/Nance 3
MVP: Collin Sexton (1)
The Cavs were down three with under a minute to go, but a pair of missed shots and a turnover cost the plucky Cavs a chance at victory. Collin Sexton led the way with 21 points, benefitting from a pair of triples and a perfect seven-for-seven night at the free-throw line. In a similar story to the Mavericks game, the Cavaliers were torched all night long by the shooting touch of the Celtics. Boston hit 57 percent of their shots, aided by an absurd 17-for-20 night from Gordon Hayward who hit all 16 two-point shots he took. From three, the Celtics knocked them down at a 40 percent clip with Kemba Walker blasting six of his eight attempts through the hoop. The Cavs could not overcome Hayward’s 39 and Walker’s 25 as Darius Garland (two-for-11), Jordan Clarkson (four-for-13), and Cedi Osman (four-for-13) had poor shooting nights.
Game 8: Cavaliers 113, Wizards 100
Points: Thompson 21
Rebounds: Thompson/Love 12
Assists: Garland 6
Steals: Thompson 3
Blocks: Thompson/Love 2
3PM: Sexton 2
MVP: Tristan Thompson (4)
The Cavs got back in the win column despite a horrific showing from the three-point line. Of the 27 shots taken beyond the line, only six shots were converted, slightly worse than the seven-for-31 effort put on by the Wizards. Tristan Thompson had a terrific day at the office, leading the team in four of the five major stats while hitting 67 percent of his shots and five-of-six from the foul line. The Wizards had a trio of players get to 20 points, but the efforts of Bradley Beal, Rui Hachimura, and Thomas Bryant were not enough to defeat the Cavs.
Game 9: Cavaliers 108, Knicks 87
Points: Sexton 31
Rebounds: Thompson/Nance 9
Assists: Garland 6
Steals: Nance 3
Blocks: Thompson/Dellavedova 1
3PM: Sexton 5
MVP: Collin Sexton (2)
The Cavaliers got their second consecutive road win with a blowout win over the hapless Knicks. Collin Sexton had one of his best games as a professional, chipping in 31 points on just 16 shots. He hit five of eight threes, and he added six points on eight free throws. The Cavaliers forced 21 turnovers and held the Knicks to 36 percent from the field and 29 percent from the three-point line. As a whole, the team stepped up in a big way to vanquish a vastly inferior opponent.
Game 10: 76ers 98, Cavaliers 97
Points: Love/Clarkson 20
Rebounds: Thompson 12
Assists: Sexton 4
Steals: Garland/Nance 3
3PM: Thompson/Love 2
MVP: Tristan Thompson (5)
The Cavaliers were up five points with under 150 seconds to go in regulation, but a pair of turnovers and missed shots sunk the Cavs’ chances as Tobias Harris scored or assisted on each of the last three buckets to give the Sixers a one-point win. The Cavaliers played extraordinarily well in Philadelphia and narrowly missed pulling off a sizable upset in the early-season NBA. This result should provide hope moving forward for the Cavs fans everywhere.
The Cavaliers are currently the NBA’s best team at preventing free throws. Aided by the NBA’s fewest fouls, the Cavaliers have done a great job of keeping other teams from free points.
Despite the questionable bad efforts of Kevin Love, Jordan Clarkson, Darius Garland, Matthew Dellavedova, and Kevin Porter from the three-point line, both Cedi Osman and Collin Sexton are connecting on 40 percent of their threes. Over a full slate of games, both players are on pace for 150 triples.
As mentioned earlier, four Cavs average double-digit points. With the big four accounted for, Larry Nance, Cedi Osman, and Darius Garland have also pitched in with over eight points per game.
Despite one of the NBA’s youngest cores, the Cavaliers have committed the fourth-fewest turnovers per game.
The defense has been suspect at best, but in terms of pure points per game, only three teams have been better than the Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers rank dead last in assists per game and blocks per game. While assists and blocks are slightly overrated in the modern era, it is alarming that no Cav averages more than four assists per game. The defense cannot be simply boiled down to blocks, but the Cavaliers due lack a true rim protector.
The Cavaliers rank 25th in field goal and three-point shooting. While a portion of the blame can go to the youth in the Cavs’ ranks, it is a number that needs to improve over the course of the season.
As Dylan Windler continues to nurse a knee injury, Darius Garland and Kevin Porter have had ample playing time. Garland has started in all 10 games, and he has registered 28.3 minutes per game. Porter has played in nine games, posting 18.7 minutes per game. Both rookies are inefficient from the field and the three-point line, with Garland posting 33 percent from the field and 25 percent from the three-point line, and Porter posting 35 percent from the field and 17 percent from the three-point line. Over time, these averages should trend in the positive direction. Both players have been hitting their free throws, but neither has registered many. Both players have shown flashes of promise, and both appear to be worth their selections in the 2019 draft.
Sexton currently leads the team in scoring, posting 18.7 points per game. He has a slash line of 44.3/39.6/80.0 that is admirable for a sophomore guard on a bad team. Sexton has been a limited playmaker, setting up 2.3 assists per game, but Sexton’s main upside has been as a scorer. Sexton had his first career 30-point game against the Knicks, and he should only continue to improve.
Next Five Games:
The Cavaliers return home to face the Heat and 76ers before embarking on a three-game road trip with stops in New York, Miami, and Dallas.