The Cleveland Cavaliers did not come out as “aggressive and assertive” as they needed to be on Thursday night against the Boston Celtics.
That is what head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said in a post-game press conference following the 116-107 loss to Boston.
It was Cleveland’s third consecutive loss and the first time since the start of the season that they have been defeated three times in a row.
Aside from the lack of assertion and aggression, Bickerstaff told Bally Sports Cleveland that there is another reason the team failed: they aren’t complete yet.
J.B. Bickerstaff thought the Cavs struggled to finish possessions tonight against Boston and weren't as aggressive early as they needed to be.
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) December 15, 2023
As they have been all season, injuries got in the way of having a fully functional Cavaliers squad on Thursday.
This time it was Evan Mobley who sat out of the game due to a knee problem that has him listed as “day-to-day.”
Donovan Mitchell led the team with 31 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists, while Darius Garland posted 19 points and Jarrett Allen put up 8 points and 10 rebounds.
But it was Caris LeVert who impressed the most with his 26 points and 5 assists off the bench.
That great showing from LeVert was incredibly welcome and spoke to the depth that the team is trying to build.
Still, the Celtics had the Cavaliers beat in terms of size, shooting ability, and a healthy roster.
Thursday’s game concluded a four-game road trip that has been troubling for Cleveland.
They won just a single game out of four, their first against the Miami Heat.
Now they get a couple of days to relax before they begin their four-game home stand against the Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz, and New Orleans Pelicans.
There is hope that within the next week, the team will be complete again.