Don’t look now, but the Cleveland Cavaliers are on a roll. Winners of seven straight, the Cavs appear to have put January’s turbulence in the rearview mirror just in time for the All-Star Break.
After Cleveland’s 117-109 victory over the San Antonio Spurs, legendary NBA head coach Gregg Popovich couldn’t help but heap praise upon the rival franchise.
“We played a hell of a team,” Coach Popovich said after the game. “Coach Bickerstaff does a great job with those guys. They execute, they’re aggressive and really play some good, solid defense, which is really going to serve them well in the playoffs.
If anyone knows what it takes to excel in the playoffs, it’s Popovich. The Spurs skipper owns five championship rings with an overall record of 5-1 in the NBA Finals. Further, he’s the winningest NBA head coach of all time, having passed Hall of Famer Don Nelson last season.
Popovich’s praise comes as the Cavaliers face a conference showdown against the Philadelphia 76ers. Philly is on a roll of its own, having won three straight contests against the Knicks, Nets, and Rockets, respectively.
Further, Philadelphia and Cleveland are bunched together in the standings, with the former owning a game lead over the latter. In many ways, Thursday’s showdown will be a litmus test for where both squads stand at roughly the half-season mark.
Cavaliers Skipper Reveals Plan for Danny Green Usage
Though the Cavaliers were awfully quiet at the deadline — one of two teams that didn’t make any trades — the team certainly made noise by landing former Sixers guard Danny Green.
Green is still a bit of a question mark for the Cavaliers after tearing his ACL last May. He’s now fully recovered, having appeared in three games for the Grizzlies before his trade to the Rockets. Even still, the Cavs will likely ease Green into the rotation early on.
An additional concern for the Cavs is flow. As noted, Cleveland is red-hot right now; adding players, no matter how talented, often presents a risk of derailing the chemistry and balance a team develops through the season.
Cavs head coach JB Bickerstaff knows that fact all too well and is cognizant of it looking forward.
“We will be very ginger with [how the Cavs integrate Green into the rotation] because we do not want to disrupt the rhythm of what these guys are finding right now,” Bickerstaff noted to Chris Fedor of cleveland.com.
Ultimately, Green will likely be additive to the rotation. He shot 39.5% from three in two seasons with Philadelphia, his last stop before Memphis.
Mitchell Welcomes Green to Cleveland
Once reports that the Cavs planned to sign Green went around, Cavs superstar Donovan Mitchell sent some love Green’s way on social media, tagging him in a tweet that included a video from Green’s first stint in Lake Erie.
“Welcome back @DGreen_14,” Mitchell tweeted, along with two crying laughing emojis.
Green returns to the Cavaliers 13 years after Cleveland drafted him in the second round of the 2009 draft. Since then, Green has won championships with the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors.
The Cavaliers will be hoping Green brings a veteran presence to a locker room high on elite talent but low on experience.