Cleveland Oh. – The Cavs ended the In Season Tournament in a big way. Beating the Hawks 128 – 105, the Cavs left their starters in to finish the game to try and qualify for the quarterfinals. In that regard, they came up short. But in terms of how they played, and how they finished…. The Cavs came out and dominated. They finish their time in the In Season Tournament with a 3-1 record and a point differential of +29.
Donavan Mitchell scored 40 points for the 15th time as a member of the Cavs (second to Lebron James) and pulled down 11 rebounds. Evan Mobley had himself a game, finishing with 17 points, 19 rebounds and 7 blocked shots. Darius Garland chipped in 19 and 8 assist, while Jarrett Allen and Max Strus scored 11 points apiece.
Before the game, Coach JB Bickerstaff said he had a number that he wanted the Cavs to win by. He wouldn’t divulge the number before the game, but Mitchell told us the number was 20.
“I think that’s what’s cool about the In Season Tournament, is like your mental approach is different but it’s also playoff like. ….. you’re going through these experiences in November and December, and I think that’s great” – Donavan Mitchell
In terms of the game, the second quarter flurry, a 16-8 closing of the quarter was what the Cavs needed to put them on top. Mitchell scored 10 points in the quarter, and Mobley 7, including a rare three pointer during the run to close out the quarter. Taking a 3-point lead into the half, the Cavs added to that in the third quarter scoring 38 points in the quarter and leading by 12 heading to the fourth.
Up big in the fourth, Coach JB admitted there were assistants with their iPad checking to see what the Cavs needed to do to qualify.
“These are learning lessons for us. In the Detroit game, we had a 16-point lead down the stretch, and we kind of took our foot off the gas. But I am a very traditional NBA guy, but this is fun. This is awesome.” Coach JB Bickerstaff
In terms of the tournament, the general consensus at least from the Cavs players and coaches is this is great. Coach JB said he’d like to add a home and home, which would make the tournament longer, but there seems to be a sense that this is fun, and worthwhile. Even with not qualifying (thanks to the Knicks…… insert eye roll) the overall sense is this is fun. It’s like having the Playoffs in November.
The Cavs went 3-1 in the tournament. Their point differential was +29. This isn’t something to hang your head on. This is something to build on. And maybe, just maybe, next year, when all the rules are set, and maybe the prize money increases, the Cavs will understand a little more early on, and dominate from start to finish.
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