Cavaliers hope to get back on track at home when Grizzlies visit
The Cleveland Cavaliers look to bounce back from a rare home loss when they host the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday.
Cleveland fell to 21-6 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse with Tuesday’s 100-97 loss to the Miami Heat. Evan Mobley led the Cavaliers with 19 points, Donovan Mitchell had 16, and Jarrett Allen added 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The loss was a frustrating one for the Cavaliers, whose inconsistent play remains a concern. The team finished January with an 8-8 record for the month.
“We have seen flashes of how good we can be,” Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We’ve seen flashes of how we can control moments and now it’s just a matter of how long can you sustain it?
“Playoff basketball comes down to every single possession. Every possession matters. Have to prepare yourself for that. That’s where our aim is and that’s what we are working toward.”
Mitchell is averaging 27.6 points while shooting 39.1 percent from 3-point range to lead the Cavaliers, who are allowing a league-low 106.8 points per game.
Cleveland is eager to avenge a 115-114 loss in Memphis on Jan. 18, when Grizzlies center Steven Adams tipped in the game-winner with 16 seconds left.
Memphis is playing the second game of a home-road back-to-back after losing to the Portland Trail Blazers 122-112 on Wednesday.
Ja Morant had 32 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds for Memphis, which has lost six of its last seven. The Grizzlies struggled to contain Portland star Damian Lillard (42 points) on Wednesday.
“(Portland) just found a way to get open shots,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “I thought our guys competed. You’ve just got to tip your hat. Lillard’s on a roll right now, and we were on the wrong end of that.”
Lillard outdueled Morant, who came within one rebound of recording his third straight triple-double.
The game marked the season debut of Memphis wing Danny Green, who has been out while recovering from left knee surgery. The 14-year veteran had three points in 10 minutes against the Trail Blazers.
“It was good to get out there and be with the guys,” Green said. “Trying to figure out some things offensively and defensively. Try to build the chemistry.”
Memphis guard Desmond Bane returned after missing two games due to right knee soreness and scored 17 points.
With Adams (right knee) out for the next 3-5 weeks, the Grizzlies are giving third-year pro Xavier Tillman Sr. additional playing time. The 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 10.5 rebounds in his last two games.
Memphis could use another productive outing from Tillman against Cleveland’s formidable frontline, which includes Mobley and Allen.
Mobley is averaging 19.6 points and 9.4 rebounds over his last eight games for the Cavaliers, who are 31-22 but have not won two straight games since early January.
“We are kind of inconsistent,” Mitchell said. “I don’t want that to be the headline. I want it to be known that the sky is not falling. We are in good shape. But we have to find that level of consistency to be a great team.”
–Field Level Media