The Cleveland Cavaliers, led by marquee offseason acquisition Donovan Mitchell, started the season off strong. They began the campaign with an 8-1 record, leading many to think whether Mitchell’s acquisition is enough to put the Cavs’ young core, led by Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen, over the top. However, they have gone an uneven 14-12 since then, their latest effort a 125-117 loss at the hands of the streaking Brooklyn Nets. Nevertheless, head coach JB Bickerstaff is not too worried.
Speaking with reporters after their Monday night loss, Bickerstaff reiterated his belief in the Cavs’ ability to hang with the elite teams in the association.
“I believe we can play with these teams. I think we did enough to give me confidence in that [and]I think we just waited too long to believe we could. […] But we just have to believe. I know it to be true. No matter the opponent, we’re capable of winning. We’re capable of beating them. Those are the things you have to go through,” Bickerstaff said, per Cleveland.com Twitter.
Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff believes Cleveland can compete with any team in the NBA, including the Nets.
Said the Cavs just took too long to believe tonight. pic.twitter.com/cYbD5O6GxO
— clevelanddotcom Cavs (@PDcavsinsider) December 27, 2022
On a talent basis alone, there’s no doubt that the Cavs could, indeed, topple any team on any given night. Darius Garland carried Cleveland on his back with a 46-point effort amid an off-night from Donovan Mitchell, which just shows the enviable arsenal of offensive weapons the Cavs possess. Nonetheless, JB Bickerstaff knows that the Cavs must put it together, particularly defensively, for them to reach their full potential.
“[When] you allow a team to get out to a lead like we did, it’s gonna be extremely difficult to come back and you have to be almost perfect. But when you look at the second half, we outscored them both quarters. I don’t think we were as great defensively as we could have been [but] we were still in it. And there’s room for us to improve there,” Bickerstaff added.
The Cavs allowed the Nets to shoot 57.3 percent from the field and 60 percent from three, not exactly a winning recipe. Nonetheless, the Cavs remain one of the best teams in the East with a 22-13 record. Their next opportunity show that they, indeed, are beginning to believe is on Thursday, when they take on the Indiana Pacers on the road.