Collin Sexton went off against the Nets for a career-high 43 points, in what was also the first game featuring Brooklyn’s new big three.
What do Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Jame Harden all have in common? They all just got torched by Collin Sexton. Sexton dropped a career-high 42 points in the game of the year against the Nets, which featured the debut of Brooklyn’s big three as a unit. The Cavs won 147-135 in a game that went to double overtime. The Cavs were able to play smothering defense for most of the game, with steady support from Cedi Osman and a double dose of defensive specialists in the middle nearly all game.
The Cavs, who are still down four key players, proved to the league that this team is for real. While it’s a little early to make that statement, after all, it’s only been 14 games, the rule of thumb is usually a quarter of the season will give you a good idea who a team is. This year, with only 72 games being played instead of 82, the quarter mark is 18 games.
The Cavs are on 14. It’s safe to say though that this is the expected norm going forward.
Let’s look at four things we learned from this game.
Cavs defense can compete with anyone
It’s not a hard idea to grasp. The team defense is the best in the league, bar none. Just look at how they play, the way they can get aggressive, cause turnovers to happen against the league’s best passers. The way Collin Sexton has become a darn fine defender. This team defense is going to be scary.
Cedi Osman is an offense force
Cedi Osman has been a needed piece on this Cavs team with injuries to Kevin Love, Darius Garland, and Dylan Windler and he’s delivered. Easily the second-best all-around scorer on the team behind Collin Sexton, Osman isn’t just getting it done by scoring. In January alone, Osman is averaging 14.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 5 assists. His versatility has been invaluable.
Instant dividends from new players
We knew Jarrett Allen would be a double-double machine off the bench but we didn’t know how well he’d flow with this team and how useful Taurean Prince would be on defense. Both men flowed effortlessly with the team and played great in their debut. Allen even had four blocks in one game. Unreal.
This team is for real
As mentioned before, this team is for real. They’re currently 7-7 with the Nets again on Friday and are sitting sixth in the playoff standings. Again, too soon to really think about obviously, but it’s still something worth keeping an eye on.