What JB Bickerstaff continues to call “Cavaliers basketball” may have prevailed in a 115-109 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday. Still, Cleveland Cavaliers head coach JB Bickerstaff and guard Donovan Mitchell saw a chance to improve.
“I thought in the first quarter, the ball was sticky, it wasn’t moving,” JB Bickerstaff said, via Cleveland.com Cavs reporter Chris Fedor. “Defensively, I didn’t think we were competing at the level we needed to compete at. It just took us a minute to get into the game.
“Once we started moving the ball, the game became simple offensively for us and everybody got involved. I thought we played Cavaliers basketball. I think that’s the way we’ve got to play.”
As the World Baseball Classic final was coming to its conclusion in Miami’s LoanDepot Park, a slow-starting Cavaliers squad took off, figuratively and almost literally, against a Nets team fighting to keep its spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Cavs guard Donovan Mitchell led the charge with 31 points, while Nets center and former North Carolina rebounding extraordinaire Day’Ron Sharpe scored a team-leading 20 points for Brooklyn.
Donovan Mitchell earned the Junkyard Dog Chain in a game that saw him put Nets forward Yuta Watanabe on a poster following a steal from Cavs guard Caris LeVert. Mitchell flew down the court after the intercepted pass, throwing it down over the 6-foot-8-inch forward with a right-handed flush that left YES Network commentators in awe.
Still, Donovan Mitchell and JB Bickerstaff chose to take the humble route in a postgame press conference.
“Yeah, I dunked on him, but I gave up the points right back,” Mitchell said, via Fedor. “It’s great to have a dunk, but you’ve got to get back and have responsibilities and duties on the other end.
“I didn’t fulfill my job and that’s on me. I’ll be better.”
The Cavs will tip off against the Nets at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday in the Barclays Center. The game will be broadcasted on Bally Sports Ohio.