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2023-24 Regular Season Thread II: March Toward Destiny

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It's April Fool's day, the absolute worst day of the year on social media imo, so I wouldn't believe anything that is posted today.
True, though it was written yesterday...I guess that it's perhaps a setup.
 
Mitchell and Wade are the top two players in terms of point differential. Wade is out and Mitchell is about 50% from what I can see.

We could use more of LeVert running the offense with Mitchell spotting up for 3's. Like Fedor says, he doesn't have the ability to beat his man off the dribble and elevate to the rim that he had earlier.

Garland needs to penetrate and finish with either the floater off one foot or a lob to Mobley or Allen. No layups (they get blocked) or kick-outs (they get stolen too often). And hit the open 3 when he has them.

Mobley, Allen, and Strus need to be a bigger part of the offense. Allen needs to work on that jumper from the elbow that teams are giving him. Strus needs to drive and dish like LeVert. Niang needs to keep hitting 3's or attacking the rim to finish with the floater when they close hard on his 3.

They HAVE to beat Utah tomorrow.

If I were the Cavs I would just sit Mitchell for a week and see how he's doing. We're not going anywhere in the playoffs with Donovan at 50-75%, so what's the point of continuing to play him? Put LeVert in his spot and Porter in LeVert's spot.
 
All that shows is the lousy rebounding and Okoro regression. The hallmarks of the post asb struggles. Then we find out Okoro has been nursing as well.
 
Jesus what the hell happened to Wade?
 
I blame the double ot loss to the Bulls.

Yeah, that's when clown played Don's knee into the ground. He hasn't been the same since. And I see his lackey, Fedor, is gung-ho about blaming the players again. Get these two out of Cleveland before they chase Don out please. Or if they haven't already.

We are going nowhere if there is no blame or criticism placed on the coaching.
 
Article from Terry Pluto just up:



CLEVELAND, Ohio – J.B. Bickerstaff is facing his biggest challenge since taking over the Cavs in 2020.

That’s when the franchise was a mess following the departure of LeBron James to the Lakers in 2018. The team went through Tyronn Lue, Larry Drew and John Beilein in 2 ½ seasons before turning to the Bickerstaff.

The Koby Altman front office made some sensational moves, starting with the Jarrett Allen trade on January 14, 2021. Then came drafting Evan Mobley, the Donovan Mitchell trade and other key moves.

Bickerstaff gave the team a defensive identity. They went from 22 to 44 to 51 victories. Even with their first-round flop against the Knicks in the 2023 playoffs, it was an impressive rebuild.

Now, the Cavs are 45-30. Hanging over them all season have been the gloomy 2023 playoff clouds. Would that happen again to the Cavs? Would they be crushed on the boards, out-hustled for loose balls?

WHEN THEY WERE GOOD

The Cavs had a 20-6 record from January 1 to the end of February. With Donovan Mitchell directing the offense, the ball and the players moved. They raised their rate of 3-point shots ,but didn’t lose their rugged defensive identity.

The Cavs went 11-2 in January with Darius Garland playing one game, Mobley playing two. They had a soft schedule. Nonetheless, that was impressive.

They were 9-4 February with Mobley and Garland back in the lineup.

Why were they so successful in those 26 games in January and February? That’s because Mitchell played in 24 of the games. The most underrated player on the team is Max Strus. He played in all 26 games.

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As I wrote Sunday, the best two-player combination on the Cavs in terms of plus/minus points is Mitchell and Strus.


THEN CAME MARCH

The surface reason for the Cavs 7-10 record last month is Mitchell missing 13 games, Strus out for 12. When Mitchell did play, it was obvious his cranky knee is a problem. He rarely drove with authority to the basket. Nearly 60% of his shots were 3-pointers.

In early March, Mitchell received a “platelet-rich plasma treatment injection” in his knee. Since returning, Mitchell is averaging 13 points, shooting 30% from the field and 33% on 3-pointers. He’s attempted only 10 free throws in four games.

While Mitchell’s passing remains superb, he is not physically ready for the demands of the playoffs. The Cavs need to rest him and try some other type of treatment. This All-Star and 27-point scorer is playing like a guy on a bad knee.

Part of preparing the team in the last seven regular season games for the playoffs is figuring out a plan for Mitchell. Simply throwing him on the court in this condition makes no sense.


GARLAND’S STRUGGLES

If they decide to rest Mitchell, can the Cavs squeeze more out of Darius Garland? He is a former All-Star on a maximum contract. He has battled his own injuries, missing six weeks with a broken jaw.

Garland played all 17 games in March. His overall stats were solid last month: 18 points, 7.3 assists while shooting .426 from the field and .383 on 3-pointers. The problem is Garland tends to have some disastrous games, often against good teams.

He shot 2 of 8 for five points in Sunday’s 130-101 loss in Denver. In their last five losses, Garland has shot 36% from the field, including 6 of 33 (18%) on 3-pointers while averaging 13.5 points.

There are times when the 6-foot-1 Garland doesn’t seem physically strong enough to carry a major load vs. rugged defenses.


WHAT TO DO?

Put the ball more in the hands of Strus, who appears healthy from his knee injury. While not a classic point guard, th 6-foot-5 Strus has passing skills. He’s a smart player. Caris LeVert has surprised with his passing – averaging 7.4 assists in March.

Bickerstaff has to be more creative on offense rather than relying so much on Garland to carry a major load. He has a healthy Allen and Mobley. He has Strus back. He has Craig Porter Jr., who can do a decent job in small minutes at point guard.

Right now, the Cavs can’t rely on Mitchell. Garland has been inconsistent. They have to incorporate a more varied approach to the offense, especially in the backcourt.
 
Here’s a link to the latest Wine and Gold Podcast :
Could Darius Garland get benched if his play doesn’t improve? Wine and Gold Talk Podcast



 

Rubber Rim Job Podcast Video

Episode 3-16: "Let Kenny Cook!"

Rubber Rim Job on Spotify

Episode 3:15: Cavs Survive and Advance
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