It was a close game late, but the Cleveland Cavaliers were not able to put things together late as they lose to the Phoenix Suns.
With 2:26 left to play the Cleveland Cavaliers held a two-point lead thanks to an Isaac Okoro free throw. Unfortunately the Cavs did not score for the remainder of the game while the Phoenix Suns scored eight straight points en route to a 119-113 victory.
It was a competitive game for the most part, minus the period midway in the 2nd quarter where Cavaliers found themselves down 12 points. Cleveland is obviously not playing with a full hand right now as they are without Kevin Love and the recently injured Larry Nance Jr. If the Cavs had either player available this game possibly could have turned out differently.
Non-traditional frontcourt for Cleveland means leaning on starting backcourt
Speaking of the absences of Love and Nance, Cleveland deployed an interesting frontcourt duo, Andre Drummond and Jarrett Allen both in the starting lineup. This is a combination that may deserve a bit more run in the future. While three-point shooting is no longer an option with both on the court, they have a distinct advantage down low that no team can match. The Cavs are not a team that take a ton of threes and the players that do shouldn’t be. Cleveland might as well lean hard into the big men concept that is evident all over their roster. Allen had 14 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 assist in his first start for Cleveland while Drummond had his usual double-double with 15 points, 14 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists, and 2 blocks.
Considering the combo of Drummond and Allen in the starting lineup, the Cavs needed their other three starters to step up, primarily Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. Sexton was fantastic with 23 points on 10-15 shooting including 2 of 4 from deep and making his lone free throw attempt. Young Bull also had 5 assists and 2 rebounds on the night. Garland’s shooting efficiency wasn’t great (17 points on 6-18 FG), but he was able to make one three, all four free throws and assist on 7 other baskets.
Yet again the Cavs got a sizable contribution from Taurean Prince off the bench. Prince finished with 13 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block in 25 minutes. With Allen taking the spot in the starting lineup, Cleveland needed someone to step up off the bench and that was Prince. If the Cavaliers continue to use the Allen-Drummond combo in the starting lineup, Prince could prove to be very important.