In an impressive display of teamwork and resilience, the Cleveland Cavaliers, despite missing key player Donovan Mitchell, secured a commanding 121-109 victory over the reigning NBA champions, the Denver Nuggets, this Sunday.
The Cavaliers' performance was marked by a collective effort, with Darius Garland leading the charge with 26 points. A notable highlight was undrafted rookie Craig Porter Jr., who stepped up remarkably, scoring a career-high 21 points.
Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen were pivotal in Cleveland's dominance, with Mobley contributing 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Allen adding 15 points. The synergy between these players was evident as Cleveland built a season-high 26-point lead, underlining their coordinated play.
"It was a collective effort. Everyone stepped up, especially J.A. with his pressure on the rim. It was a work of art," Mobley shared in a post-game interview.
Cavaliers' Defensive Dominance
The Cavaliers demonstrated their depth and versatility, especially notable in the absence of star guard Donovan Mitchell, sidelined due to a right hamstring strain, and sixth man Caris LeVert, out with a sore left knee.
Yet, Cleveland's defense remained unyielding, not trailing in the final three quarters and outrebounding the Nuggets 47-33. This defensive rigor was particularly effective against Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who, despite battling foul trouble, managed 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Jokic, a two-time MVP, acknowledged the Cavaliers' superiority. "They were simply better than us today. We needed more movement on the court," he admitted. The Cavaliers' strategy of having Mobley and Allen alternating in guarding Jokic proved successful, as they significantly limited his impact.
On the Nuggets' side, Michael Porter Jr. and Christian Braun tried to rally their team, scoring 21 and 13 points, respectively. However, the Nuggets' struggle on the road continued, marking their fourth consecutive loss away from home.
This victory for the Cavaliers, especially in the absence of key players, is a testament to their depth and team spirit. It also sends a strong message about their capabilities and potential in the ongoing season. As they continue to build momentum, the Cavaliers are demonstrating they are a formidable force in the NBA.