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Triumphs and Challenges: Week 3 with the Cleveland Cavaliers

During the initial stages of their West Coast journey, the Cavaliers are encountering difficulties in finding synergy on both offense and defense. Presently, they hold a 4-6 record overall, with a 3-3 mark on the road. They find themselves in third place in the Eastern Central conference standings, trailing behind the Indiana Pacers and the Milwaukee Bucks.


Despite being in the nascent stage of the season, the vaunted defense that marked their previous year has faltered against the agility of emerging young opponents. The weekly slate unfolded with a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder (128-120), followed by a hard-fought win against the Golden State Warriors (118-110) and a challenging defeat against the Sacramento Kings (132-120).


Wednesday, November 8 - @Oklahoma City Thunder

"Our approach to starting the game wasn’t good enough," lamented Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff after the Cavaliers' away game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on November 8. Despite a noteworthy performance from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who scored 43 points, the Thunder secured a 128-120 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Gilgeous-Alexander showcased his scoring prowess by connecting on 15 22 field goal attempts and impressively making 12 13 free throws. This marked his eighth occasion of scoring at least 40 points, falling just one point short of his career high.


Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren contributed 15 points each for the Thunder, while on the Cavaliers' side, Caris LeVert scored 29 points, and Evan Mobley added 22. Despite Donovan Mitchell entering the game as the NBA's leading scorer with an average of 32.5 points per game, he was held to 20 points on 8-for-23 shooting. In the teams' initial encounter on October 27 in Cleveland, Mitchell had scored 43 points, leading the Thunder to a 108-105 victory.


Despite the Cavaliers shooting an impressive 50.6% from the field, the Thunder capitalized on Cleveland's 20 turnovers, converting them into 30 points. Coach Bickerstaff expressed disappointment, stating, "Where we were mentally and where our focus was wasn’t good enough. Coming out and not executing the game plan the way we did is disappointing."


Saturday, November 11 - @ Golden State Warriors

Rebounding from a recent setback against the Thunder, the Cleveland Cavaliers secured a significant 118-110 victory over the Golden State Warriors, bringing their season record to 4-5. Donovan Mitchell's standout performance, with 21 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals, was particularly notable on a night when Draymond Green was ejected.

Despite Stephen Curry's 30-point lead, the Warriors faced a setback with Green's ejection at the 6:23 mark of the third quarter. On the Cavaliers' side, LeVert's 22 points, Garland's 19 points, six rebounds, four assists, and five steals, and Mobley's 19 points and two steals showcased a well-rounded performance.

This victory marked Cleveland's first win on the Warriors' home court since March 14, 2014, and their first series sweep since 2008-09. Following their 115-104 victory at home against the Warriors the previous Sunday, the Cavaliers are now set to face the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.


Monday, November 13 - @ Sacramento Kings

In their recent matchup, the Cavaliers, initially favored, faced a challenging game on the road against the Sacramento Kings. Despite a hard-fought contest, the Kings secured a 132-120 victory, marking Coach Mike Brown's 400th career win.

Donovan Mitchell led the Cavaliers with 22 points and five assists, and Evan Mobley added 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Kings excelled from beyond the arc, making 20 out of 42 shots, establishing a new season-high in three-pointers and tying their season-high total score at 132. The Kings' success was attributed to the return of star players De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. Fox's impactful comeback featured 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting and a plus-17 rating, highlighting his crucial role.

Although the Cavaliers narrowed the gap to 126-115 late in the fourth quarter, a key three-point play by Fox with 1:26 remaining secured the Kings' win. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff acknowledged execution shortcomings and emphasized the need to contain teams with the offensive firepower demonstrated by Sacramento.

Looking ahead, the Cavaliers aim to address challenges as they face Portland on Wednesday.


Thoughts

As the Cavaliers currently stand at 4-6, with a 3-3 record on the road, their performance signals a team in search of consistency. The recent setback against Sacramento raises concerns, underscoring the urgency for improvement. Despite possessing a talented roster, the Cavaliers are expected to surpass their sub-.500 standing. Addressing ongoing challenges is crucial for Cleveland to unlock its full potential and compete effectively in the fiercely competitive Eastern Conference as the season progresses.


Up Next

Wednesday, November 15 @ Portland at 22:00 - CLE -110.5, O/U 218.5

Friday, November 17 vs. Detroit at 19:30

Sunday, November 19 vs. Denver Nuggets @18:00


(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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