Ailing Cavs look to get back on track vs. Magic
The Cleveland Cavaliers are starting to see injuries pile up. Unfortunately for them, the losses have followed suit.
The short-handed Cavaliers look to avert a fourth loss in their past five outings Wednesday night when they visit the Orlando Magic for the second time in three nights. Cleveland dropped its fifth straight game to Orlando with a 103-83 decision Monday.
The Cavaliers, who started the season 3-0, are without starters Kevin Love (calf injury), Darius Garland (strained right shoulder) and Isaac Okoro (sprained foot), and that list saw an addition after Dante Exum injured his right calf early in Monday's game. Add Matthew Dellavedova (concussion protocol) and Dylan Windler (fractured left hand) as well as the ongoing situation involving Kevin Porter Jr. (personal and legal matters), and it's cause for concern for Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff.
"It is what it is, and we've just got to figure it out," Bickerstaff said of his team, which could see Garland and Okoro return on Wednesday night.
"We are down bodies, and we talked about adversity a few games back, and this is the epitome of it. We've just got to figure it out, and that's what we're gonna do."
The Cavaliers have two consistent answers in the form of Collin Sexton and Andre Drummond.
Sexton scored 24 points Monday to tie LeBron James' franchise record of seven consecutive games with at least 20 points to open a season.
Drummond collected his seventh straight double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds on Monday. Cedi Osman recorded 18 points, seven rebounds and a team-best seven assists, and Damyean Dotson added 16 points in an impromptu start.
"At the end of the day, you got to find a way," Dotson said, per Cleveland.com. "But it does play a big factor -- the normality of the game and how you usually play. I feel like we fought for the most part. Then it was just, we had guys coming in at positions they hadn't played. It's a little different. We definitely got to be ready to adjust in situations like that."
The Cavaliers will need to adjust to Orlando's Aaron Gordon, who highlighted his season-high, 24-point performance by scoring 13 in the third quarter. That stretch included three of his career-high-tying six 3-pointers.
"Winning is the only thing that matters. However you get there, however you get to that point, is the only thing that matters," said Gordon, who also had 11 rebounds. "It doesn't matter who has what stats. At the end of the game, if we can have another win in the win column, that's the most important thing."
Orlando coach Steve Clifford said he saw a difference in Gordon during the shootaround before Monday's game.
"This was the first game that Aaron was cleared to play more minutes," Clifford said. "I think he was excited about that, and I think he's starting to feel better physically. I think his leg feels better."
Orlando's Nikola Vucevic, who averages team-best totals in points (21.7) and rebounds (11), had 23 and eight, respectively, on Monday.
The Magic hope for the return of Evan Fournier, who has missed consecutive games with back spasms.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 5, 2021