J.B. Bickerstaff ‘extremely proud’ of Cavs: ‘It’s a special thing they got brewing in that locker room’

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Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers have shown clear signs of growth in recent games, making coach J.B. Bickerstaff “extremely proud” of his players.

Bickerstaff spoke on the heels of Cleveland’s tough victory against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.

“There was so many reasons why we couldn’t get the job done and we never let that set in as an excuse and a cop-out,” Bickerstaff said. “Things weren’t going our way in the first half, but we never once fragmented or separated. All we did was try to figure out a way to get it done.

“I’m extremely proud of these guys. Like, you talk about growth, you talk about perseverance. You talk about just a character and a personality; it’s hard to not root for these guys and want to be around them and be a part of what they’re doing because they’re just so good to each other and good for one another. It’s a special thing they got brewing in that locker room.”

The Cavs scored just 40 points in the first half on Saturday and fell behind by nine points entering intermission. But they didn’t fold and put up a remarkable performance in the second half, eventually coming away with a 97-89 win.

Perhaps what had the 43-year-old coach gushing about his team’s mental toughness was the fact that Cleveland was on the second leg of a back-to-back in the game against Chicago. The Cavs had little time to rest as their Friday contest came on the road versus the New Orleans Pelicans.

Moreover, the matchup against the Bulls was Cleveland’s fifth game in seven days. Even so, several Cavs players turned in key performances.

Donovan Mitchell finished the game with 29 points on a 10-for-18 shooting clip. He also contributed 10 rebounds, six assists and two blocks.

Another player who stepped up was Jarrett Allen, who recorded his 25th double-double of the season with 23 points and 10 rebounds.

Darius Garland (19 points and seven assists) and Evan Mobley (14 points and six boards) also provided the Cavs with enough help and compensated for a lack of bench production on Saturday. Cleveland’s reserves combined for just five points and one field goal.

The win over Chicago was Cleveland’s sixth consecutive victory, and the streak has the team sitting comfortably in the No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference with a 37-22 record. It is also just one game behind the third-place Philadelphia 76ers.

Cleveland is hoping that it can carry its momentum into Monday when it faces the San Antonio Spurs. A victory would not only extend the team’s winning streak but also help its goal of nabbing one of the top seeds in the playoffs.

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Orel is a freelance writer who is passionate about the NBA. He has followed the league since the late '90s and found increased interest in it in 2003 – when an 18-year-old prodigy from Akron, Ohio took the league by storm.