The Cleveland Cavaliers earned more than a win against the Raptors on Sunday. After hammering Toronto in a 118-93 blowout, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse marveled at Donovan Mitchell, identifying what makes the All-Star “unique.”
“His balance and his strength are impressive,” Nurse said, per Chris Fedor of cleveland.com. “It’s uncommon to see a guy do three directions in one move over and over. That’s what makes him unique.”
It was a nice win for the Cavs, who had been reeling since the All-Star Break. Heading into Sunday, the Cavs rode a three-game losing streak, including back-to-back losses against the Nuggets and Hawks after the midseason festivities concluded.
But Sunday was much more in line with what Cleveland has demonstrated so far in February. Following a tumultuous January, the Cavs ripped off seven straight wins in the year’s second month.
But lately, the Cavs had struggled coming out of the gate with intensity and urgency. But according to Nurse, the Cavs brought both traits in spades Sunday.
“They had us back on our heels on everything, transition, guarding the ball, screen and roll,” Nurse explained. “There was a big difference in energy and intensity. We were battling from the start.”
Rubio Blasts Cavs’ Intensity
Earlier in the week, the Cavs fell on the other side of a blowout, dropping an eyesore to the Atlanta Hawks 136-119. The game felt out of hand for Cleveland early on after the team missed its first ten shots from deep.
After, Ricky Rubio put the Cavs on blast for their lack of effort, replying candidly when asked if the Cavs have demonstrated the right intensity following the All-Star Game.
“Not really,” Rubio told Chris Fedor of cleveland.com. “We have to figure that out. We came out of the All-Star break and this is where you start turning it on for the playoffs. It’s something we have to figure out sooner than later.”
Rubio also drew a stark contrast between Thursday’s gutsy loss to the West’s top-seeded Denver Nuggets and Friday’s blowout to the Hawks.
“Last night we played a really good game. Tonight, was one of the worst performances of the season. We take pride in our defense, we’re the No. 1 defense, and they scored almost 140 points in the game and 81 points at the half. That can’t happen. Need to be better,” Rubio lamented.
Fortunately, the Cavs showcased plenty of firepower on Sunday, as noted by Nurse.
Green Sounds Off on ‘Hostile Environments’ Awaiting Cavs
With the postseason push in full swing, the Cavs will likely rely on two sources to steady the ship towards the playoffs: Mitchell and Danny Green.
Green, for his part, is a three-time champion who is as familiar as anyone in the league with what a deep postseason run looks like. The former Spurs and Raptors champ is already imparting that knowledge to the rest of the team, explaining what lies ahead for the young and inexperienced Cavs team.
“Hostile environments. Every play, every possession is going to be intense,” Green explained.
But according to Green, there’s only one way to deal with those environments.
“You’ve got to embrace it, lose yourself in the moment, lose yourself in the game,” Green explained. “At the same time, be on your P’s and Q’s, execute the best you can and doing your job. Not letting yourself down, your teammates down. We’re going to expect the most out of each other. Just making sure that everybody can embrace the moment and be ready for a hostile environment.”
The Cavs get a shot at facing one of the league’s most hostile environments Wednesday when they visit the Boston Celtics for a conference showdown.