Cavs: JB Bickerstaff’s honest take on point differential in In-Season Tournament
Not a lot of NBA players and coaches were a fan of the point differential rule that became a major talking point of the NBA In-Season Tournament. That is not the case for Cavaliers head coach JB Bickerstaff. After the Cavs took down the Atlanta Hawks thanks to a 40-point explosion from Donovan Mitchell for their final In-Season Tournament game, Bickerstaff offered a rather refreshing take on the controversial rule.
“We’ve got guys back there with their iPads out, keeping tallies on the score, trying to tell us what we needed and where we needed to go,” Bickerstaff explained, via Cleveland.com. “That’s the sole reason why we left our guys out there at the end of the game, was to try to get as many points as we can and build the lead as large as we could. I am a very traditional NBA guy, but this is fun and it’s awesome for the league.”
New York Knicks forward Josh Hart and Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown have admitted they find the ruling “weird” because it ruins the integrity of the game. NBA players are accustomed to just dribbling the ball out in the dying seconds of a game that is all but over. Moreover, coaches also take out their star players and starters during blowouts.
But given the point differential ruling, teams, just like the Cavs did against the Hawks, have kept their starters in and continued to pad on to their lead.
Unfortunately, Cleveland’s efforts didn’t amount to anything as it failed to advance to the Knockout stage of the NBA In-Season Tournament.
The Knicks wound up securing the last wildcard spot in the East with a point differential of 42.
Cavs’ Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell injuries get critical JB Bickerstaff update
Both Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell appeared to have suffered concerning injuries on Saturday in their showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers. Fortunately, Cleveland Cavaliers head coach JB Bickerstaff has some rather optimistic news on the situation of the two.
Starting off with Mitchell, Bickerstaff emphasized that there’s no major concern for him about a potentially significant injury. Mitchell was spotted having a noticeable limp at the end of the game, but the Cavs head coach pointed out that the superstar guard is “fine” and is not dealing with a new injury nor had he reaggravated a previous issue, per Evan Dammarell of ClutchPoints.
As for Garland, he played just 14 minutes in the showdown with the Lakers before he was ruled out for the rest of the night. The 23-year-old suffered a neck strain and didn’t return as the Cavs fell to the Purple and Gold, 121-115. Bickerstaff said that the youngster is “doing okay,” though he still needs to undergo more tests to determine the severity of the issue.
“He’s been evaluated. He’s doing okay but we’ll have to wait and see how he’s feeling in the morning,” Bickerstaff explained, per Dammarell.
By the looks of it, Donovan Mitchell won’t have to be sidelined again. However, depending on the diagnosis of his injury, Darius Garland could miss some time. He already missed four games earlier in the campaign as well due to a hamstring problem.
For now, Cavs fans can only hope for the best as their two players look to recover before they return to action on Sunday against the Toronto Raptors.
Richard Jefferson fires back at notion Cavs had ‘hole’ in court after Dru Smith injury
No, there isn’t a single hole on the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse floor that sits directly below the Cleveland Cavaliers’ bench. And no, the Cavs didn’t try to cover up the hole with a white piece of paper.
But all the misinformed early hand-wringing about the season-ending injury to Miami Heat guard Dru Smith ignores the most important question surrounding it. Do the Cavs really need to be playing on a court that sits multiple feet above the arena’s natural surface? The answer seems obvious, but former Cavs champion turned NBA analyst Richard Jefferson doesn’t see the problem.
After Smith, an undrafted guard who’d recently forced his way into Miami’s rotation, suffered a sprained ACL while stepping off the raised floor during Miami’s blowout win over the Cavs on Wednesday, Jefferson set the record straight about the alleged ‘hole’ in the Cavs’ home court.
But he pushed back on the notion that Cleveland’s raised court is an injury hazard, pointing to the “thousands of games” and “5 NBA Finals”—two of which he played in beside LeBron James in 2015 and 2016—that have taken place at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse without incident.
To be fair a few thousands games have been played there and 5 nba finals. It’s called an accident.
Erik Spoelstra, no surprise, disagrees. After Smith’s right leg slid off the Cavs’ court, ending his potentially career-changing season prematurely, the Heat’s coach called the raised surface “dangerous” and an “accident” his players have narrowly avoided on multiple occasions in past seasons.
“It’s a dangerous floor. I don’t the history of injuries here but we’ve had a couple near scares in previous years when guys are closing out in that corner,” Spoelstra said. “Thankfully, nobody’s been injured before but it’s an accident waiting to happen. You close out and all of a sudden you’re going off a cliff. It’s just so dangerous. As soon as he stayed down, we all knew that’s probably what happened.”
Undrafted out of Missouri in 2021, Smith spent his rookie season with the G League’s Sioux Falls Skyforce. He signed a two-way deal with Miami prior to last season only to be waived and sent back down to the Skyforce, a month later inking another two-way contract with the Brooklyn Nets. The 25-year-old appeared in 15 total games in 2022-23 with the Heat and Nets as a deep reserve.
Smith went back to Miami on a two-way before Summer League, where he proved his bonafides as a potential full-roster player. He lived up to that promise in the season’s early going, four times notching over 20 minutes off the bench as the Heat dealt with injuries. Smith averaged 4.3 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 14.6 minutes per game before going down, his solid defense and playmaking supplemented by 41.2% three-point shooting, easily the best mark of his career.
Smith’s absence for the remainder of 2023-24 cuts into Miami’s already questionable quality and depth in the backcourt. Tyler Herro has been out since November 8th with a Grade 2 ankle sprain, while Josh Richardson has underwhelmed in his South Beach return and Kyle Lowry—effective as he’s been—is overstretched as a high-minute player in the regular season at 37 years old.