Cleveland has recorded back-to-back victories to reach 19 wins on the season with 21 games remaining. The Cavaliers also had 19 wins in each of the two campaigns (19-63 in 2018-19, 19-46 in 2019-20) that followed a run of four straight NBA Finals appearances.
“It’s the big picture. That’s the most important thing,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff told Cleveland.com of the team’s modest steps forward. “When we’re doing what we’re doing, you can’t live and die with every small victory or every small loss. You have to have an idea of what the big picture is and then you have to have people who support you in that.
“… Having that support and knowing what the big picture is, you can take some of those lumps because you know you have an opportunity to keep building and you don’t feel that pressure with every single small loss or small victory.”
The Cavaliers didn’t just enjoy a small victory on Thursday. Six players scored in double figures to lead Cleveland to a lopsided 129-102 win over the short-handed Oklahoma City Thunder.
Collin Sexton scored 27 points, Taurean Prince had 22 and Darius Garland added 21 for the Cavaliers, who shot 51.1 percent from the floor and recorded a season-high 35 assists.
An impressive performance to be certain, but that’s not the top priority in Cleveland right now.
“We’ve got 20-something games left and I feel like we have a chance to make a good push. It doesn’t mean too much to me at all,” Sexton said. “I just know wins are hard to come by and I take a lot of pride in getting a win, so I try not to think about those past two seasons where we weren’t winning. Just try to learn from those and continue to strive forward.”
Sexton scored 23 of his 36 points in the second half to pace the Cavaliers to a 116-105 home victory over Toronto on March 21.
The reeling Raptors have dropped two in a row and 15 of their last 18 after dropping a 122-113 decision to the Chicago Bulls on Thursday.
Chris Boucher erupted for career-high totals in points (38) and rebounds (19), while Pascal Siakam added 27 and eight, respectively.
“He had a night, that’s for sure,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said of Boucher, who made 14 of 24 shots from the floor. “He was hitting shots that I don’t think I’ve seen him take before. And he obviously was a problem on the glass for them on both sides.”
Boucher’s performance was a welcome sight for a Raptors club without Kyle Lowry (foot) and Fred VanVleet (hip). VanVleet, in fact, will serve his one-game suspension following his role in a skirmish against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday when he is healthy enough to do so.
–Field Level Media