The Cavs continue their strong start with 107-104 win over Portland
After a successful 3-2 West Coast road trip, the Cleveland Cavaliers returned home Wednesday night to beat the Portland Trailblazers, 107-104. They got double-double efforts from both Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley (24 points, 17 rebounds -11 points, 10 rebounds respectively).
Cavs GM Koby Altman is pleased with how the young team is playing this early in the season, posting an optimistic message prior to the game..
However, there have been some challenges early. Players Kevin Love and Lauri Markkanen entered the NBA's "health and safety protocols" this week due to COVID-19. The team says it has a 100% COVID-19 vaccination rate. Both players will be away from the team indefinitely.
The Trailblazers came to town coming off two straight losses. A key new player for them is former Cavalier Larry Nance, Jr., who was given a warm tribute just a minute into the game.
In the first minutes, the Cavaliers struggled to find a groove offensively. Defensively, they contested shots well on the wing and low-post, but the Trailblazers dropped shots nonetheless.
However, the Cavs were able to maintain a healthy lead as the second quarter continued, thanks to an early couple of threes from Darius Garland and Cedi Osman, along with paint dominance from Mobley and Allen.
Double-digit point efforts from Allen, Garland, Collin Sexton and Dylan Windler — along with a 50% field goal percentage from three— willed the Cavs to a 60-53 halftime lead.
Halfway through the third quarter, Allen already had more that 10 rebounds and Garland had just under 10 assists.
Meanwhile, the Blazers staged a fourth quarter comeback, bringing the game to within a point midway through the fourth, led by C.J. McCollum and Norman Powell.
Using size to their advantage, the Cavs were able to ware the Blazers down as the fourth quarter drew closer to an end. The Trailblazers were able to make it interesting and forced a last second three-point effort by Lillard to tie the game at 107, but he was unable to hit the shot.
The Cavaliers are able to do something this year they could not the past four: close out games. Whether this is a testament to coach J.B. Bickerstaff or the development of young players, it seems this team has made steps to become seriously competitive.