Cavaliers shake off rocky start, even record at 2-2 in first week


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Collin Sexton guards Nuggets center Nikola Jokic

Ishan Kulkarni, Staff Reporter

After week one of the 75th NBA season, the Cleveland Cavaliers have come out of the gates with an overall 2-2 record, good for third place in the Central Division while remaining tied for eighth in the Eastern Conference. 

The team opened the season on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies. Unable stick with them, the Cavs lost 132-121. Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff opted to go with a nine-man rotation, starting off the game with a tall lineup. Forward Lauri Markkanen started the game at the small forward position, which he has rarely done before. The other starters were Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, with Isaac Okoro, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Cedi Osman coming off the bench. Allen led the team in scoring with 25 points, while Mobley and Markannen led the team on the boards with nine rebounds each. Garland was effective at the guard position, scoring 13 points to go along with 12 assists. Rubio also had a solid contribution off the bench with a double-double of 12 points and 10 assists. Ultimately, though, the team was unable to keep up with Ja Morant’s 37 points and got outplayed in the second and fourth quarters, ultimately resulting in this season-opening loss.

The team then went on to face the Charlotte Hornets for their home opener. Garland was out of the lineup this time with an ankle injury sustained from the previous game. Sexton picked up the load for the team, scoring 33 points, while Rubio posted another double-double with 15 points and 10 assists, starting in place of Garland. Unfortunately, these efforts were not enough to hang with the Hornets, as Miles Bridges scored 30 points to go along with seven rebounds. The Hornets as a team outrebounded the Cavaliers by 10, which made the difference in the end as the Cavs lost 123-112.

The Cavaliers then looked to turn things around and upset Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks. Cleveland was again missing Garland, and the team’s rotation shrank to only eight players. Rubio led the team’s scoring with 23 points to go along with eight assists. The two big men, Mobley and Allen, were able to dominate the glass with 11 and 14 rebounds, respectively. The Cavaliers’ defense managed to hold Trae Young to only 24 points and prevented anyone else from scoring above 20 points, holding the Hawks to only 95 points overall. In the end, the team came away with a 101-95 upset to earn their first win of the season.

To close out the first week of the regular season, the Cavs faced the Denver Nuggets and had all their players healthy enough to participate. Allen was stellar for the team, scoring 21 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Love also made a strong impact off the bench with a contribution of 22 points, while Rubio bolstered playmaking with eight assists off the bench. The team again had a strong defensive showing, holding the Nuggets to 87 points. Despite the reigning MVP Nikola Jokic’s 24 points and 19 rebounds, the Cavaliers won their second game of the season 99-87. 

The team now continues its road trip through the Western Conference, with tough games against the LA Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns before they face the Hornets once again in Charlotte.