The Cleveland Cavaliers made quick work of the Dallas Mavericks in their lone stop at the American Airlines Center. Cleveland looked every bit a team near the top of the standings in the Eastern Conference, jumping out to an early lead and never looking back. Meanwhile, Dallas continues to sputter, despite making in-game adjustments. With the 105-90 loss, the Mavericks fall back to .500.
Here’s what the players and coaches had to say after the game.
(On if it was Cleveland starting hot or Dallas starting slow...)
“I think it was a little bit of both. They’re a really good team. They have two 7-footers in the paint which is tough to get to the paint. They have [Lamar] Stevens who is strong and big. And then on the offense, they have Darius [Garland] and [Donovan] Mitchell, they’re going to do their own thing. They have a pretty big team, a great team.”
(On defensive breakdowns late...)
“We will figure out tomorrow what we’re going to do about defense. We just didn’t guard and then our offense was static. We missed a bunch of layups too, especially me. I have to do way better than this. And we just have to bounce back.”
(On what makes Donovan Mitchell a great scorer...)
“He’s a great shooter. He’s very quick and athletic. He can penetrate the defense obviously. He can shoot. He’s a complete player. Cleveland, when they traded for him, you can see it (see him score). They’re winning games a lot and they have an amazing team. He’s that guy you know.”
(On playing without Maxi Kleber...)
“Obviously, on the defensive end he’s one of our better defenders, so we miss him out there. On the defense end he can rebound. And on offense he can shoot and space the floor. We really miss him.”
(On what prompted the starting lineup change to start the 2nd half…)
“Everything was on the board. We got off to a slow start. At one point, we were only down five – I think it was 30-24. We couldn’t score, but I thought C-Wood [Christian Wood] got us going there. Then we talked about, at halftime, who could help slow down [Donovan] Mitchell. We looked at Reggie [Bullock]. Reggie had another good game in the first half for us. Then we started to talk about, you know, is there a way we could get C-Wood to start [so he could] get us some points, and he got us off to a good start in the third. Again, we couldn’t stop them. They are a good team. They are a really good team.”
(On what Christian Wood was able to do against Cleveland’s big men tonight…)
“He can stretch the floor. When you look at Maxi and the things that Maxi can do with stretching the floor – their two bigs, Luka has to beat [Lamar] Stevens and then he has to deal with [the bigs] at the rim. So, with being able to have C-Wood on the floor, his ability to shoot, catch and drive, it helped us there in that first quarter and then helped us in the third.”
(On what he saw from the rotation breakdowns that allowed so many back cuts and layups tonight…)
“Yeah, I think it was what you just said: breakdowns. We just couldn’t get to the cutter fast enough. So, we’ll look at the tape and see where the mistakes were taking place. We’ll work on them and get better.”
(On what the matchup against the Mavericks meant after last year’s playoffs…)
“It could be them or it could’ve been anybody. I think for me it’s just understanding that at the end of the day, they are kind of the reason I am in Cleveland. They did a great job in the playoff series, and I am thankful I am here, but it’s just recognition. I have played them a bunch of times in my career and played them 6 times in the playoffs with intense focus on different things. Obviously different personnel here so I am able to find gaps, and I was telling these guys how they are going to attack me and approach the second half. I didn’t shoot as much in the second because I knew they were going to start blitzing and trying to take me out of the game. Everybody did a great job, but I wouldn’t say I am coming in like that. We see these guys again and we have to be ready for them. For me it’s just trying to set the tone. I think more of it was just trying to set the tone after the San Antonio loss, then coming in here worried about last year. Last year just made me a better player as a whole. You take those lessons and you learn and implement them in the game.”
(On the defensive effort on Luka Dončić…)
“I thought we did a tremendous job. It was one of those things where Lamar [Stevens] set the tone early, but it wasn’t a one-man job. We had a bunch of guys who had to take a chance on [Luka Dončić]. I thought they went out and executed the game plan really, really well. He’s an extremely talented, obviously, a gifted basketball player. You do a great job and he still ends up with 30. But, I thought what we did set the tone, slowed him down early, gave us an opportunity for our offense to kick in. I would say this the most complete game we played in a long time for sure, and maybe the entire year.”
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