Cavaliers fight hard, but fall to experienced Celtics 119-113
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - Although the Cleveland Cavaliers are one of the youngest teams in the NBA, they haven’t been able to ease into the 2019-20 season.
“Of these first seven games, six of them have been against playoff teams from last year,” Cavs head coach John Beilein said before Tuesday’s matchup with the Boston Celtics. “So, we’ve had our work cut out for us.”
On Tuesday in the first of four meetings with the Celtics this season, the Cavs held their own for four quarters but fell just short in a 119-113 loss in Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.
“The Celtics are really good,” Beilein said. “They got enough guys that can beat you individually, but Brad (Stevens) runs some great schemes to get them open. But, (Gordon) Hayward was so good today.”
The Cavs (2-5) may have tasted victory on Tuesday if not for the superb play of Celtics forward Gordon Hayward. Hayward didn’t miss a shot inside the three-point line, going 17-of-20 from the field and totaling 39 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. His only misses were three three-pointers.
Six Cavaliers reached double figures in scoring, led by Collin Sexton’s 21 points. Sexton has now reached double figures in scoring in 30 straight games dating back to last season.
“They made some tough shots down the stretch, but we just have to continue to grow,” Sexton said. “We’re going to watch the film tomorrow and try to get better.”
Tristan Thompson recorded his sixth double-double in seven games this season, totaling 19 points, a season-high tying 13 rebounds and four assists. Meanwhile, Kevin Love fell just short of his sixth double-double of the season, finishing with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Trailing 116-110 after a Kemba Walker three-pointer with 1:49 remaining in regulation, Sexton answered back with his second and final three-pointer of the game to bring Cleveland back within three points. Following a Walker missed three-pointer on the ensuing possession, Hayward swooped in for the rebound and put back an easy layup for his final points of the game. The play effectively silenced any hope for a Cavaliers victory.
The Cavs were without rookie guard Kevin Porter Jr., whom the NBA suspended for one game for bumping a referee in Cleveland’s last outing against the Dallas Mavericks.
“I didn’t see the bump, I just saw him running that way and I turned to talk to the assistants at that time, and I didn’t even know about it really until Koby (Altman) told me yesterday,” Beilein said. “So I just called him and he was very contrite and very disappointed in himself.
“I had to watch it twice to see the bump and realize that there was some incidental contact. He apologized to the official right away by the way, because J.B. (Bickerstaff) had seen it clearer than I had. You cannot do that with the officials. You can’t come close to them like that, I think we all realize that. It’s certainly another area of growth for him and the whole team. I think the whole team realizes that now after that’s happened.”
With youth comes moments of growth, and 19-year-old Porter Jr. will certainly learn from the incident. And Porter, who is a capable defender for a rookie, was missed on that end of the floor on Tuesday.
The Cavs had been fairly respectable on defense early this season, but the team lost that defensive identity in the last two games. After allowing the Mavericks to score 131 points in Cleveland on Sunday, the Cavs allowed the Celtics to shoot 57 percent from the field on Tuesday.
“After this seven-game mark, we’ll have pretty good data now on our defensive stats, and it’s points, challenges per shots, all these things we chart that you’d never see in the stat book,” Beilein said. “So, I think we’ll have pretty good data going into the first time we’ve had two days in between games.”
The Cavs, who fell to 2-2 at home this season, will be in the Nation’s Capital on Friday for a matchup with the Washington Wizards.
POSTED 11/05/2019 22:26