Cavs Top 3: Lauri Markkanen takes Nikola Jokic’s soul in epic dunk

Lauri Markkanen is one of the major Cavs players in the win over the Nuggets.

The Cavs were able to get a major early-season win against the Nuggets on Monday night, winning 99-87 in a game that saw the Cavaliers defense step up, alongside Jarrett Allen and Kevin Love. The two bigs carried a bulk of the offensive work while the rest of the team helped limit the Nugget’s defensive abilities. The game was all but over emotionally early, however, when Lauri Markkanen came alive left many speechless.

Early in the first, Markkanen robbed Nuggets big-man and reigning MVP Nikola Jokic of a pass, and as Markkanen traversed the court, the big-man from Finland drove to the rim and with a Shang Tsung-like ability to rip a soul from a human body, obliterated Jokic at the rim.

It was easily the best play Markkanen has made as a Cavalier and maybe ever. While Markkanen has been struggling with his shooting early on, he’s made up for it in other ways, like his four steals on the night. Markkanen has quietly been one of the Cavs’ best defensive players over the last few games.

Lauri Markkanen took Nikola Jokic straight to the afterlife with a massive dunk.

As always, the bottom is in descending order with the lowest number being the worst and the top is in ascending order with three being the best.

The Bottom Three Performers

  1. Ricky Rubio
  2. Darius Garland
  3. Evan Mobley

Consistency has always been Ricky Rubio’s biggest issue offensively. You can blame Darius Garland for being back in the lineup, and yeah, Garland wasn’t much better, but if Rubio wants to take claim to the starting spot, he needs to outperform Garland every chance he can. Rubio went just 2-10 (0-3 from three), so it wasn’t like he didn’t have opportunities. His eight assists were helpful but with Rubio, you want more than 10 per game. Eight is pretty standard for him.

Garland was supposed to be this offensive catalyst coming into the season, with all sorts of NBA experts talking about how he was going to take “the next step”. He absolutely still can, but that’s the baseline for where we’re going to be judging him. Is it unfair? No, we’re not the ones who created the hype.

Lastly, Evan Mobley. Granted, not a bad game by the rook, but when the entire team plays well as they did against Denver, getting nitpicky is unfortunately what we have to do. Mobley only took eight shots, with no three’s attempted, just eight rebounds, and three turnovers. Not a bad game, sure, but someone had to go here.

Dishonorable mention goes to Collin Sexton. Where ya been?

The Top Three Performers

  1. Lauri Markkanen
  2. Kevin Love
  3. Jarrett Allen

Lauri Markkanen went 4-12 from the field and 2-8 from three-point land. It’s not a great stat line, and if that was his entire game, he’d be on the other list. What Markkanen did, besides his posterizing dunk on Jokic, was contribute in every other facet. He had four steals on the night, four rebounds, and a block, and did a nice job stifling Michael Porter Jr and Aaron Gordon when matched up on them.

Hey Ma, look, it’s Kevin Love. He shot 61% from the floor, got to the foul line, added on six rebounds, and put up 22 points. It was an incredibly impressive performance and if he continues to be this locked-in all season, the Cavs may just be a playoff team yet. But it’s only four games, so let’s pump those breaks now.

Lastly, Jarrett Allen. Allen is shooting 83% from the floor. Oh, sorry, that was confusing, it made it sound like Allen, who went 10-11 against the Nuggets shot 83% from the floor in Denver. No, sorry, my bad. He’s shooting 83% on the year. He’s missed just six shots all year. Sexton missed seven shots just last night. Allen also nerf a lot of the Nuggets offensive. While Jokic still got his, greats always do get theirs, Allen was able to help cut off passing lanes and limited Jokic’s ability to facilitate.

 

Yearly Standing:

1. Jarrett Allen (6 points)
2. Ricky Rubio (5 points)
3. Kevin Love (4 points)
4. Tie Collin Sexton/Evan Mobley (3 points apiece)
5. Lauri Markkanen (2 points)
6. Cedi Osman  (1 point)