Just about everything has gone right for the Cleveland Cavaliers since the calendar flipped to 2024.
Winners in 14 of their last 15 games, Cleveland aims to extend the league’s longest win streak to seven when it visits the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.
The NBA’s best record since the start of December belongs to the Los Angeles Clippers and the Cavaliers handed L.A. one of its five defeats in more than two months with a 118-108 victory just over a week ago.
During Monday’s 136-110 home win over the Sacramento Kings, the surging Cavaliers enjoyed a season-best 56.1 percent shooting clip from 3-point range by making 23 of their 41 attempts. The 23 made baskets from deep tied a season high.
Usually, it’s Cleveland’s defense that gives them the advantage. Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s team allows just 109.7 points per game, third fewest in the NBA.
Monday, however, was all about the offensive end.
“The thing that’s most important is how we’re generating them,” Bickerstaff said of the team’s 3-pointers. “So many of them are created because one guy does a selfless act for another. Thirty-six assists on 51 made field goals is awesome. That again speaks to the quality of these guys, how selfless they are, and how bought in they are to one another.”
Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell accounted for a team-high 29 points, to go along with five 3-pointers. Max Strus had 22 points, including six 3-pointers, and two steals defensively.
Signed as a free agent in July, Strus has been a continued source of energy for Bickerstaff’s club.
“When you have a guy who works as hard as Max does, he makes those shots and it uplifts everybody,” Bickerstaff said. “I think about a couple of the steals he got in the back court, on top of the 3s, it’s a momentum shifter. … The guys appreciate what Max does every single day. The way he plays the game, it’s just pure effort, grit, and determination. He doesn’t give up on plays.”
The only member of the Cavaliers to start all 48 games, Strus is averaging 12.6 points per game. Mitchell leads the team at 28.2 points, followed by Darius Garland’s 19.0.
The Wizards find themselves on the opposite end of the spectrum heading into Wednesday’s matchup.
On pace for its worst season in franchise history, Washington relieved head coach Wes Unseld Jr. of his duties on Jan. 25. Just three years removed from its last playoff appearance, the Wizards look to improve on their NBA-worst 3-21 home record.
Most recently, the Wizards absorbed a 140-112 home loss Sunday to the Phoenix Suns, as former franchise star Bradley Beal scored a season-high 43 points in his return. Beal was traded by Washington in June after spending his first eleven seasons with the team.
The Wizards, who give up a league-worst 124.0 points per game, saw Phoenix to shoot 61.4 percent from the field.
“We are about shared accountability, and we didn’t have the right mindset tonight,” Wizards interim head coach Brian Keefe said. “I’ve got to take the blame myself; I didn’t get the group ready to play. We’ll have a couple days to look at this and come back ready on Wednesday.”
Kyle Kuzma, Washington’s leading scorer at 21.8 points per game, missed Sunday’s game due to a shoulder injury. Kuzma, along with Marvin Bagley III (back) are both game-time decisions for Wednesday.
Following Kuzma’s scoring is Jordan Poole with 16.2 points. Bagley has averaged 15.5 points in eight games (two starts) since being traded from Detroit.
–Field Level Media
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