Cavs look for three in a row as Blazers visit
Winning three games in a row is nothing new to the Portland Trail Blazers.
The same isn't true for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Portland plays at Cleveland on Monday night on a three-game winning streak, its seventh such run of the season. The Blazers will be looking for their third four-game run.
Cleveland has a chance to notch its first three-game winning streak of the season after beating Phoenix on Thursday and Memphis on Saturday.
Portland will provide a better barometer on how much better the Cavs are with the return of Kevin Love from a foot injury. The Trail Blazers -- fourth in the Western Conference -- have won the first two games of a seven-game road trip, beating Brooklyn and Philadelphia.
"Getting these first two is huge for our momentum and us feeling good about ourselves," said Damian Lillard. "And also, they were two games that we could have easily lost. So I think we should feel good about it but understand that this is only the beginning of the trip."
Playing in only his fourth game since November surgery, Love scored 32 points and had 12 rebounds in Saturday's win against the Grizzlies. Love scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, 20 in the second half, when he went 7 of 8 from the field and 5 of 6 from 3-point range.
"It's a lot of fun. ... I feel really good and really fortunate just to be out there," Love said.
Still on a minutes restriction, Love sat out the final 5:23, giving Cleveland's younger players a chance to close out the win.
Having Love around and playing up to his All-Star-caliber level, has given players like rookie Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman some much-needed confidence. Love had some advice for his youthful teammates when he left the game.
"I said, 'That's all I got tonight, so don't (bleep) this up,'" he said on Ohio.com.
Osman gave the Cavs the lead for good, hitting a 3-pointer with 1:58 left and making a dunk 17 seconds later. Sexton answered the bell with a crucial rebound and a 3-pointer.
In his last seven games, Sexton is averaging 20.3 points per game while shooting 43.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Sexton might have a hard time keeping up with the Trail Blazers' backcourt duo of Lillard and CJ McCollum. Lillard averages 25.9 points per game; McCollum 20.9.
In Saturday's win over Philadelphia, Lillard scored only 17 points but had eight assists and six rebounds in 29 minutes. McCollum scored 15.
Jusuf Nurkic continues to develop as a force in the paint. He played 23 minutes against the 76ers, long enough to record his 28th double-double of the season.
Moe Harkless recorded 13 points, five rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocks in 22 minutes on Saturday night.
"Honestly, I just feel like I've been a lot more active," Harkless said. "I've been feeling a lot better out there, feeling a lot more healthy. It's been a process; it's been a tough year so far, but I think I'm feeling the best I've felt so far this year."
The trip to Cleveland will be a homecoming of sorts for a number of Trail Blazers. McCollum grew up in Canton, about 60 miles south of Cleveland. Rodney Hood started the season with the Cavaliers before a Feb. 4 trade. Evan Turner played his college ball at Ohio State, about two hours from Cleveland.
Cleveland and Portland met on Jan. 16, with the Trail Blazers winning 129-112.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 24, 2019