J.B. Bickerstaff calls out Cavs for having ‘fat-cat mentality’ after 5th straight loss

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The Cleveland Cavaliers opened the season on an extreme hot streak, but the team has faltered recently, losing its last five games to fall to 8-6 on the season.

Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff offered an honest assessment of his team amidst the rough stretch.

“We got kind of a fat cat mentality,” Bickerstaff said. “We went out and won eight games in a row, everybody was giving us love and praising us, and we got really comfortable. We are the team that won those eight games; we are a really good basketball team. This is about maturation and growth from a team as a whole.”

The Cavs have played some tough games over their five-game losing streak, but it’s still a frustrating stretch for the team. Cleveland’s losses have come against the Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves.

Even with Darius Garland out of the lineup early in the season, the Cavs rode a hot stretch from Donovan Mitchell to several wins out of the gate. Bickerstaff clearly thinks his team can get back to that level, but it needs to avoid having such large ups and downs this season.

Mitchell echoed his coach’s sentiment following the team’s loss to the Bucks on Wednesday night.

“We won eight in a row,” the All-Star guard said. “That’s great. We lost five in a row. OK, cool, let’s get back to the drawing board and get to it. We’ve done it, we’ve shown we can do it. Looks great, looks phenomenal. We just have to go out there and do it. It’s a long season. This is nothing to sit here, and the sky is falling and whatever. … It’s November, we’ve played a bunch of good teams.”

Cleveland is hoping to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference this season after narrowly missing them last season. The Cavs made the play-in tournament in the 2021-22 season, but they lost back-to-back games to the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks to miss the final playoff field.

With Mitchell in the fold, the Cavs have high expectations for themselves this season. However, the team is getting an early test at how it handles adversity with this five-game skid.

Cleveland still ranks fourth in the NBA in net rating, sixth in defensive rating and fifth in offensive rating. That’s a good sign going forward, even though it hasn’t translated to wins recently.

The Cavs will get a chance to get back in the win column on Friday night when they take on a struggling Charlotte Hornets team in Cleveland. Charlotte is just 4-12 on the season and has lost nine of its last 10 games.

Guard LaMelo Ball also reinjured his ankle on Wednesday night, so the Hornets may be without him against Cleveland.

That game is scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m. EST.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.