Coach Bickerstaff Issues Blunt Assessment of Cavs After Sixers Embarassment

JB Bickerstaff Cleveland Cavaliers

Getty J. B. Bickerstaff, head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cleveland Cavaliers faced a mighty test in the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night. Prior to tipoff, the Sixers were a game up on the Cavs, but Cleveland could have taken the playoff tiebreaker with Philly with a win, not to mention swap spots with Philadelphia in the Conference seeding.

Instead, the Cavs were, as head coach JB Bickerstaff noted postgame, “punched in the face” early on.

Cleveland scored a meager 14 points in the second quarter, finishing with 38 points in the entire first half — the exact amount Philadelphia scored in the first quarter. With Philadelphia’s lead extending to 28 at one point, all seemed lost for the Cavs.

But Cleveland battled back to make things interesting late; a 42-point fourth quarter brought Cleveland within six points, but the Cavs couldn’t quite close the gap. Ultimately, Philadelphia hung on to win 118-112.

After the game, Bickerstaff didn’t sound too worried about the near-blowout loss, instead praising the team’s work to overcome adversity.

“That’s who this group is,” Bickerstaff explained. “We’ve been through ups and downs, but our guys have never quit on each other. And I never expect them to. They care about each other too much, they believe in each other too much, and they just want to go out and do right by one another.”

Cavs at Sixers Post Game: J.B. BickerstaffCleveland Cavaliers Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff spoke to the media following a 118-112 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on February 15, 2023.2023-02-16T03:50:51Z

Bickerstaff: Sixers Loss a ‘Lesson…on Trust”

Bickerstaff pointed to another reason behind Cleveland’s rousing comeback, boiling it down to one word: trust.

“This is a lesson for us on trust,” Bickerstaff said. “There were, in the second half for us, 17 assists and one turnover. That’s trusting each other and when things are going awry and most difficult, you gotta trust each other. And I think that’s the lesson for us.”

The Cavaliers certainly played with a better flow in the second half, apparently using the halftime break to lick their wounds and regroup.

But Bickerstaff also showed great trust in his stars for much of the game. Though Danny Green made his debut for Cleveland, he saw just 12 minutes of action — second only to Caris LeVert’s 28 among non-starters.

The usual starters were tasked with climbing Cleveland out of their early hole; Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen all played for at least 35 minutes.

Mitchell led the way in scoring with 33; he’s been on a tear heading into the All-Star Break. Over his last six games, Mitchell is averaging 28.8 points and shooting 51.2% from the field.

Cavaliers Planning Kevin Love Buyout

Off the floor, the Cavs appear to be parting ways with a franchise legend. Despite initial reports that Kevin Love was likely not facing a buyout, the Cavs are now reportedly finalizing a buyout with the former champ.

The buyout negotiations nearing a conclusion were first reported by Shams Charania and Jason Lloyd of The Atheltic. They also mentioned a potential suitor for Love in the Miami Heat, who are five games back of the Cavs in the Eastern Conference standings.

“The Cleveland Cavaliers and Kevin Love are finalizing a contract buyout, with the Miami Heat expected to emerge as a suitor for the five-time All-Star should the sides finalize parting ways,” Charania and Lloyd wrote.

In addition to the Heat, Love will likely have other teams interested in acquiring his services. A reunion with LeBron James with the Los Angeles Lakers would be interesting and the Golden State Warriors could also utilize his unique skill set.

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