The Cleveland Cavaliers seemed well on their way to notching their 17th win of the 2022-23 NBA season on Friday when they were up 90-83 with just over 7:30 left to play in a game versus the Sacramento Kings.
What took place from there, however, was a furious comeback by the Kings that resulted in a 106-95 win for the Western Conference team. Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff didn’t seem happy after the game.
Though losing to the 14-10 Kings is no embarrassment, the way in which the Cavs dropped the game clearly left a bad taste in Bickerstaff’s mouth.
“I’ve never seen him look so angry,” an arena staffer said to Cleveland.com. “What happened?”
Allowing a team to come back in the final minutes of a game is always disappointing for players, coaches and fans alike. If the Cavs want to reach their full potential this season and remain near the top of the Eastern Conference, they are going to have to improve at closing out games.
Bickerstaff offered his honest thoughts on the way things ended on Friday.
“I didn’t like the way we finished at all tonight,” Bickerstaff told Cleveland.com. “I needed to help them more. I could’ve found more ways to help and I didn’t.”
When asked what he saw during the team’s brutal stretch to close the game, Bickerstaff offered a similarly blunt response.
“Nothing,” he said. “That’s it. We didn’t execute well enough. Couldn’t create for one another. Then we had shots we turned down that I thought were open. We didn’t do a good job of closing. Give them credit. But also look in the mirror and see what we didn’t do well enough. I think there’s plenty of those things when we go back and watch it that we’ll see.”
On the night, Caris LeVert led the Cavs in scoring and finished with 22 points, six boards and six assists. Darius Garland had a decent night as well, putting in 19 points and six assists.
Evan Mobley had a solid game, as he went for 16 points, seven boards and four dimes.
There’s obviously no reason to press the panic button for the Cavs, but they are going to want to figure out what went wrong so they can improve when it comes to closing out future games. Issues with finishing often plague young teams. Bickerstaff will be sure to preach the importance of finishing going forward.
Cleveland will get a chance to get the bad taste from the loss out of its mouth on Saturday when it hosts the Oklahoma City Thunder.