J.B. Bickerstaff expresses tons of frustration with Cavs loss to Thunder

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On Wednesday, the Cleveland Cavaliers were handed their fifth loss of the 2023-24 regular season against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Cavaliers lost a close game as the final score was 128-120.

Cleveland’s defense was subpar against Oklahoma City, seeing as how the Thunder managed to shoot 51.2 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from outside the 3-point arc.

After the game, Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff lamented the “clear disappointment” of Cleveland’s loss to the Thunder.

“This is a clear disappointment,” Bickerstaff said. “We had an opportunity coming off a big win to kind of springboard ourselves in the right direction. Our approach to start the game wasn’t good enough. Where we were mentally and where our focus was, it wasn’t good enough. Coming out and not executing the game plan is disappointing.”

Bickerstaff then said that if the Cavaliers don’t defend at a high level, they won’t win games.

“As much as we’ve become enamored with the offensive side of the ball, if the Cavaliers don’t defend, we will not win. It’s that simple,” he said.

Finally, he explained that consistency is what separates the good teams from the great teams in the NBA.

“The signs of good to great teams is consistency,” he said. “We can’t play the last six quarters that we played, starting the second half against Indiana and Golden State, and then come out and play these two quarters that we did to start tonight’s game. The fine line between average to good and good to great is the attention to detail.”

Following the loss to the Thunder, the Cavaliers own a 3-5 record, including a 2-2 road record.

Cavaliers star guard Donovan Mitchell really struggled to score the ball efficiently against Oklahoma City. He scored 20 points but shot just 8-of-23 from the field and 1-of-9 from behind the 3-point line.

Cleveland point guard Darius Garland wasn’t much more efficient on the offensive end than Mitchell. He went 7-of-11 from the field but racked up a whopping eight turnovers in the loss compared to nine assists.

Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander arguably was the top performer on either team on Wednesday. He recorded 43 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals in 38 minutes of playing time. Also, he was practically automatic from the free-throw line, as he made 12 of his 13 free-throw attempts.

Cleveland’s two road wins so far this season have come against the New York Knicks — who eliminated the Cavaliers in round one of the 2023 playoffs — and Brooklyn Nets. The Cavaliers beat the Nets by one point and Knicks by six.

Mitchell, Garland and the Cavaliers have a daunting road game ahead of them. They will take on Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors on Nov. 11.

The Warriors have a 1-1 home record this season but are off to an excellent start on the road, as evidenced by their 5-2 road record. The team’s one home loss came against the Phoenix Suns on Oct. 24.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.