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Cleveland Cavaliers see growth in first loss of season: ‘If it was last year we probably would have lost by 20, 25 or 30’


CLEVELAND, #Ohio — #Just how much have the #Cleveland #Cavaliers grown after being one of the league’s worst teams over the last two seasons?

#Tuesday night’s loss is #Exhibit A.

#Sure, it was a bad result. I mean, they lost to the #New #York #Knicks. #But defense wasn’t the problem. #How many times over the last two years, when the #Cavs were pointing fingers and raising palms, has that sentence been accurate? #What’s the over/under on those odds, #Vegas? The turnaround on that end of the floor, which continued against the #Knicks, is remarkable. #Even #Collin #Sexton recognizes it.

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“I felt like if it was last year, or the year before, and we was missing this many shots, we probably would have lost by 20, 25, 30,” #Sexton said. “But tonight we just continued to fight, we continued to play hard, we continued to scrap. #We’re definitely growing. I can see the growth just because I’ve been here three years now. I know what type of team we have. #And I have never played with a team yet like this. I’m excited.”

#Sexton’s summary mimicked the one backcourt mate #Darius #Garland gave.

“Take the lid off the rim. #That was our biggest problem. #We couldn’t make a shot,” #Garland said. “We played great defense. #Our defense brought us back into the game. #Defense was there. #We make ‘em turn the ball over. #We just couldn’t make a shot in the first half and that’s what got us into this hole and couldn’t come back from it.”

The #Cavs went 32-of-88 from the field and 7-of-32 from 3-point range. #It was their worst offensive showing after shredding defenses and scorching nets the first three nights. #It happens.

#Guys not named #Andre #Drummond and #JaVale #McGee combined to miss 40 of their 68 shot attempts. The #Cavs led twice all night — 2-0 and 4-2. They made just four of their final 23 attempts in a dejecting first quarter that forced them to climb back all night. They stalled in transition, scoring two second-half fastbreak points after racing out to 14 in the first half. They reverted to hero ball and started taking a few low-percentage shots when adversity hit. #Tough to win that way, let alone compete.

#As #Sexton and #Garland said, the outcome being a single-digit loss is astonishing.

“I think we competed. I think we really scrapped,” head coach J.B. #Bickerstaff said. “It wasn’t a lack of effort that led to this. #It was us experiencing something different. #We had made shots up until this point. #So tonight, we didn’t make shots and we have to learn how to respond when the things aren’t going well offensively. #What’s the next step? I think that’s where we’re a work in progress and still working to grow.”

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#Another sign of that growth came moments after the loss. #As #Bickerstaff was collecting his thoughts and preparing for his postgame #Zoom meeting with reporters, #Drummond emerged from the locker room for an on-court workout. Then came #Sexton, #Garland, #Dante #Exum and #Thon #Maker.

#On a disappointing night, as the #Cavs lost their first game of the season, #Bickerstaff spotted a beacon of hope.

“It’s headed in the right direction. #You got guys who care. #You got guys who want to get better. The game matters to them,” #Bickerstaff said. “That’s important and that’s special. #It speaks to the character of our group. #This doesn’t sit well with them. The fact that they’re out there working speaks to them.”

#Culture has been a popular word since #Bickerstaff took over for #John #Beilein. #It’s tough to define. #But that late-night moment provides a window.

#Sexton went 6-of-17. #Garland was 6-of-18. #Exum missed all five of his attempts. #Drummond was 7-of-13 from the field, 0-of-1 from beyond the arc and 4-of-10 from the foul line. #Thon #Maker didn’t play. #He’s logged six minutes all season. #But the quintet wasn’t looking for a quick exit out of #Rocket #Mortgage #FieldHouse. #Rather an opportunity to fix what they viewed as their biggest obstacle to a 4-0 start.

“We are just workers. #Doesn’t matter who came up with the idea. #We were just out there working and that’s all it was,” #Garland said. “We just had a bad game in our opinions.”

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“I was missing some shots that I normally make, especially some of my floaters and a lot of 3s,” #Sexton said. “I’m shooting the ball pretty well, then tonight I think I missed two corner 3s and I was like, ‘Dang, I wish I could have back.’ I shot a lot of them after the game. I’ll be ready to go on #Thursday against #Indiana.

“I don’t think it went wrong for us. #We just didn’t make shots. #We got a lot of open looks in the first half, we just couldn’t buy anything to go in. #We lost by nine? #That was a really good game for us, just the fact that we shot it that poorly. #We still scrapped. #And plus, we gave up 95 points. #That’s not a bad job tonight.”

#Ninety-five points. #Forty-three percent shooting. #Twenty-seven turnovers. #That’s usually good enough on defense. #And over the last two years, it’s been an anomaly. #Cleveland’s season-long defensive rating actually improved #Tuesday night. #That success, which was partially tied to the opponent, shouldn’t be lost because the #Cavs didn’t get the outcome they wanted against #New #York.

The #Cavs have gotten off to a better-than-expected start this season, ripping off three straight wins and pounding the #Joel #Embiid-less #Philadelphia 76ers on #Sunday. #But given where they still are as a franchise, wins and losses can’t be the only barometer for success. There must be other ways to define it. #Growth, in any area, is one.

#Bickerstaff said earlier this offseason he doesn’t like the player development phrase. #He views his job as a teacher. #It’s about getting guys to recognize what winning basketball looks like. #Every night, no matter the result, provides an education.

“It’s about being honest,” #Bickerstaff said. “Telling people the truth is the most important thing in creating what we’re trying to create here.

“I think we’ll learn a lot. #How we take the next step and the next step is when things don’t go your way, how do you respond? #What’s #Plan B? #We’ve got to get back in the gym and continue to prepare ourselves and find our #Plan B and execute our #Plan B. #You obviously hate to take the loss but you want to learn from it and be put in these positions so you can get better.”

#New #Cavs face masks for sale: #Here’s where you can buy #Cleveland #Cavaliers-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($14.99) and a 3-pack ($24.99). #All NBA proceeds donated to charity.

#More #Cavaliers coverage

#Breaking down a 3-0 start, plus injuries to #Love, #Okoro, #Windler: #Podcast

#Love reaggravates calf strain, will be out at least three weeks

#Cavaliers allowed nearly 2,000 fans at fieldhouse after state approves request

#Cavaliers passing every test, proving doubters wrong

#Inside #Andre #Drummond’s return to #Detroit: #An emotional night, a coach’s trust



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##Cleveland ##Cavaliers #growth #loss #season #year #lost

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