The Cleveland Cavaliers fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday
The Cleveland Cavaliers were without Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, and Donovan Mitchell on Friday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder and it showed. The Thunder shot 52.6% from the floor and 55.6% from three and outscored the Cavs by 19 in the second half to win, 112-110.
That would be bad enough, but the Cavs have an excellent team beyond those three men. So it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility to see the Cavs win this game without those three guys. Yet, J.B. Bickerstaff’s decision-making has got to be called into question. Despite being 1-9 heading into the fourth quarter, Bickerstaff played LeVert for the last 12 minutes of the game, uninterrupted.
LeVert shot just 1-12 on the night and tied the team-high for the worst Box Plus-Minus on the team for the game. This, while Cedi Osman played just 17 minutes on a short-handed Cavs team. Osman’s a better scorer than LeVert and has shown a high offensive IQ, and statistically speaking he’s a better defensive player than LeVert but Bickerstaff keeps playing LeVert over Osman.
It’s now getting to the point where Bickerstaff’s inability to move on from LeVert is costing the team games. If it was a case of starting the worst bad option, then fine, but it’s not. Statistically speaking, Osman is among the most productive players on the team, and we have the information to back that up with. We’ve already talked about how Osman makes lineups better, and how he’s a better defensive option than others.
Yet, after a game, the Cavs needed, amid a huge skid where the team has just been 7-10 in their last 17. Yes, injuries have hurt this team, but this team is too deep for that to be an excuse. A lot of it has to do with LeVert being relied upon when he’s just not that guy.
If the Cavs continue to start LeVert when Mitchell is back, instead of Isaac Okoro or someone else, then it may be time to reevaluate Bickerstaff as the lead voice for this unit. The team can’t keep going with options that hurt them.
Cleveland Cavaliers top 3 vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder
1 Point – Darius Garland
37 minutes, 31 points, 13 assists, 4 steals, 2 rebounds, – 10 BPM
2 Points – Isaac Okoro
23 minutes, 6 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, -7 BPM
3 Points – Evan Mobley
38 minutes, 23 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, -2 BPM
Cavs Top 3 Seasonal Standings
- Darius Garland – 57 Points
- Donovan Mitchell –54 Points
- Evan Mobley – 39 points
- Jarrett Allen – 32 points
- Cedi Osman – 31 points
- Caris LeVert & Kevin Love – 20 Points
- Isaac Okoro – 15 Points
- Dean Wade – 3 Points
- Lamar Stevens & Raul Neto – 2 Points
- Ricky Rubio – 1 Point