Cavs Aim To Take Care Of Business At Home, Push For Better Playoff Spot

CLEVELAND — Game one of a five-game homestand is in the books, and for the Cavaliers, it worked out well.Evan Mobley

Granted, the Cavs missed plenty of open shots in their 120-111 overtime win over the Clippers on Monday, but they made ’em when they counted. (Related Dribbles.)

They also played the style of basketball that made them the story of the early season, a story that continues to be pretty cool. And that is for this relatively young team to forget that it’s relatively young, and to just win, baby.

“For what we’re trying to accomplish, it’s it,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We have to take advantage of it. We have to do the job and take care of home court.”

Not only are the Cavs’ next four games at home, so are 10 of their final 15. So Bickerstaff makes a valid point. Win the games you’re supposed to win, and you don’t need to worry about the Raptors — who trail the Cavs just by 1.5 games for the sixth spot in the East. If you finish seventh, you’re in the play-in tournament. That’s pro basketball’s version of purgatory.

Anyway, the good news for the Cavs is rookie Evan Mobley really seems to be rising in the absence of Jarrett Allen (finger injury). Mobley erupted for a career-high 30 points and also compiled his 100th career block in Monday’s win.

If there is a silver lining in Allen’s absence, that is it.

“He understands the moment and it’s that simple,” Bickerstaff said of Mobley. “The conversation we had about the sense of urgency and the importance of these final games, he took it to heart. And then he’s got the skill on top of it to impact winning. He was phenomenal.”

Mobley hit a rookie wall right around the All-Star break. It seemed as if he’d been sapped of his basketball powers, like the stars of the original “Space Jam” flick. But now, he has come crashing through, again showing why the Cavs and most of the rest of the league thinks he is headed for greatness.

“Just going out there and being aggressive,” Mobley said. “That’s what I’ve been doing the last few games and I feel like it’s really helped our team right now. So that’s what I’m trying to do.”

The Cavs (39-29) are both trying to fight off the Raptors and catch the Bulls, the current fourth seed in the East. The fourth seed gets home-court advantage in the first round. With so many home games coming up, the Cavs should feel confident that all is possible.

That is, of course, if they follow the rally cry of their coach and make home a place others hate to be.

“Coming out and playing with more energy, being the team that hits first, being aggressive, not being on our heels a lot,” Cavs guard Isaac Okoro said about finishing the season strong. “We feel like a lot of teams are coming out and being physical with us first, so basically coming out there and attacking them.”

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1 COMMENT

  1. I am SO glad to see the Cavs performance allowed you to write this one, AND the dribbles, filled with such good reports. Phenomenal WAS the right word for Mobley’s performance. The return of Levert, Markkanen, and allowing Stevens aggressive defense to be part of the action seemed to stir everyone awake. Only a very few of possessions where all were standing still watching Darius dribble. Yeah, I know, it’s mesmerizing to ALL. But their continuous movement really kept the Clips off balance. We could be talking about Mobley’s block a long time, but I think there are MORE coming! AND what about Goodwin’s BBBBLOCK! Wow! Darius was blown away with it. Okoro’s Offense appears to be lighting up again too.
    Great game by all & SO glad you cover it so well.

    Thanks

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