NBA: Menacing at home, Cavaliers now face Blazers
The Cleveland Cavaliers will look to close a perfect four-game homestand when they host the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.
The Cavaliers have won their previous three games by double digits, including Monday’s 114-102 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. Cleveland has won seven of its first eight home games, the team’s best start in its own building since the 2016-17 season, when the Cavs opened 9-1.
Cleveland used defense to clamp down on Atlanta in the fourth quarter before pulling away. Hawks star Trae Young, who averaged 36 points in his last four games vs. Cleveland, had 25 points and 10 assists.
Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said defense was the key to holding onto the lead late.
“We show what we’re capable of defensively,” Bickerstaff said. “We know when we’re at our best, we can create stops and turnovers and create easy opportunities for ourselves because of that.
“But I think in that fourth quarter, holding them to 17 points until that last (3-pointer) is how you win basketball games against good teams. You lock down defensively — and that eventually helped our offense.”
Cleveland’s dynamic backcourt of Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell led the way again.
Mitchell nearly recorded his 10th 30-point outing of the season, scoring a game-high 29 points on 11-of-22 shooting from the field, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range, while handing out nine assists and recording three steals.
Darius Garland also handed out nine assists while scoring 26 points, going 9-for-14 from the floor.
Cedi Osman chipped in with a season-high 23 points off the bench, while Evan Mobley nearly recorded his third straight double-double, finishing with 10 points and nine rebounds.
While the Cavaliers are trying to cap a perfect four-game homestand, the Trail Blazers are looking to even their four-game trip at 1-1. Portland, which has dropped three straight and four of its past five games, lost in the opener of its trip Monday 119-111 against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Playing without star scorer Damian Lillard (calf strain), Portland stayed within striking distance of the Bucks behind Anfernee Simons, who led the Blazers with 29 points on 12-of-23 shooting from the field to go with five assists, four rebounds and a steal in 37 minutes.
Jerami Grant added 18 points, four rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 35 minutes.
“I thought the effort was good; we fought hard in the game,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. “We got pretty good production out of everybody; they all came to play. We gave ourselves a chance against a good team.
“Obviously (we’re) missing a lot when (Lillard) is out, both sides of the floor and your leader, missing your leader out there. But for the most part, I thought it was a good effort.”
Portland shot 58.3 percent from the field in the first quarter to take a 32-30 lead. But cold shooting in the third quarter (25 percent) put the Blazers in a hole, and they never recovered.
–Field Level Media