The Cleveland Cavaliers’ sluggish start to the 2023-24 season continued on Friday, losing 121-116 to the Indiana Pacers in the opening game of the NBA In-Season Tournament. That dropped the Cavs to 2-4, but big man Jarrett Allen, who just returned from injury, isn’t the least bit worried about his squad and even sent a warning to the league.
“Definitely not our night,” Allen said. “I think we will be fine. Gonna keep piecing it together as soon as we can. Not going to be perfect. But on Sunday, every game, we are going to piece together more and more. When we get it pieced together, it’s going to be trouble.”
The reality is the Cavs have struggled immensely to stay healthy early on. Donovan Mitchell is playing through a nagging hamstring injury while Caris LeVert and Darius Garland were dealing with similar issues. But, JB Bickerstaff’s squad was finally at full strength on Friday for the first time this season.
In fact, it was Allen’s first appearance of the campaign and he didn’t have a huge load, scoring 10 points and grabbing seven rebounds in 21 minutes of action. The biggest problem versus Indiana was Cleveland’s offensive issues in the first quarter, already going down by double-digits heading into the second. Defensively, the Cavs allowed 70 points in the first half. Remember, this is typically a team that prides itself on its ability to contain opponents.
On a more positive note, Jarrett Allen and Co. know what the talent on this roster is capable of. He and Evan Mobley form a dynamic frontcourt duo while Garland and Donovan Mitchell are electric together when clicking. Plus, there are more shooters around them now as well with the likes of Max Strus, Emoni Bates, and others.
Cleveland just needs time to find that chemistry again and once they do, we should see this group get back on track and become a force in the East.