What can you say after the Cleveland Cavaliers (44-38) put on a show like that? It was a tense Friday night battle, with only one squad advancing. The Cavs could not complete the task, but they put in a valiant effort.
There is a lot to unpack following the Cavs’ 107-101 loss to the Atlanta Hawks at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, which eliminated the home team from postseason contention. I’m sure all Cleveland fans have imagined a play-in with so many questions and answers.
At 11:08 of the first quarter, Evan Mobley and Lauri Markkanen combined on a three-point shot, giving the Cavaliers a 6-0 lead. To close off the quarter, Markkanen added three three-pointers for 11 points. Yes, Lauri led Cleveland with 26 points, eight rebounds, 10-17 shooting from the field, and 6-12 shooting from beyond the arc.
Darius Garland finished with 21 points, nine assists, 9-27 shooting from the field, and 1-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Evan Mobley had 18 points and five assists, Caris LeVert had 16 points, five assists, and Jarrett Allen had 11 points and five assists to close out the scoring. I didn’t think Garland’s shot decisions were excellent in this game.
Isaac Okoro (six points, five rebounds), Kevin Love (three points, four rebounds), and Rajon Rondo (zero points) all had subpar performances. From downtown, Cleveland was 36.1 percent (13-36), while from the field, it was 37-81. In addition, the Cavs were able to earn seventeen shooting fouls and convert fourteen of them into buckets. When the three-ball went down, Love gave Cleveland a ten-point lead, 44-34. Cleveland struggled on the glass as the Hawks outrebounded them 42-36.
The Hawks got 19 points from Bogdan Bogdanovic, 14 from Danilo Gallinari, 13 from Kevin Huerter, and 10 from De’Andre Hunter. The Hawks went 20-22 from the line, but they threw 31 three-pointers and only hit nine, shooting 39-80 from the field. Meanwhile, Cleveland struggled to contain Trae Young, a 38-point scorer who had nine assists, was 8-9 from the charity stripe and shot 13-25 from the field. Young’s step-back shot with 7.6 seconds left in the first quarter was a game-changer for the Hawks, who trailed 36-25. During that well-executed move, Trae sealed the deal with six points.
Atlanta didn’t stop coming.
Give them credit because they appear to have dropped out of the game early!
Trae Young simply had the answers and ensured that the Hawks’ lead was not squandered.
The Hawks got lucky with number 13! With 1:42 left in the third quarter, Young hit back-to-back layups and a 36-foot jumper to put Atlanta in the lead, 77-76. Young’s challenge was met with two jump shots from LeVert. Having said that, LeVert scored 14 points with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Cavs made too many errors against Young on defense, allowing him to get good looks and have too many chances at the free-throw line. The Hawks were never out of this game, and it ultimately paid off.
What did we take away from this setback?
- That is a lesson to be learned from.
- The Cavaliers must improve their consistency.
- Don’t become too comfortable with double-digit leads.
- The Hawks’ lead was significantly reduced due to too many fouls causing them to enter the bonus.
- Cleveland’s rotations on both sides of the court need to be better.
- How do you manage your time?
- Especially in the second half of the game, the energy level seemed out of whack. Out there, the Cavs appeared to be two different teams.
- When the odds are in their favor, Cleveland must finish the game.
- Minutes of play must be used wisely and not squandered.
How will the Cavaliers bounce back?
Which players did you think stepped up and had promising seasons?
What players have the most to prove, as well as improve, for the upcoming season?
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The offseason and potential moves for the Cavaliers will begin in time, so we’ll just have to wait and see.