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Cavaliers take on reeling Blazers in search of consistency

Nov 13, 2023; Sacramento, California, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) dribbles the ball next to Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray (13) in the second quarter at the Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been highly inconsistent in the early portion of this season and star guard Donovan Mitchell is frustrated by the pattern.

Mitchell and the Cavaliers will look to shake out of the slumber on Wednesday night when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers.

Cleveland is 1-2 as it enters the finale of a four-game road trip. The middle game of the excursion saw the Cavaliers impressively beat the Golden State Warriors 118-110 in San Francisco.

But the Cavs averaged 130 points in the other two games. Cleveland began the trip with a 128-120 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder and also fell 132-120 to the Sacramento Kings on Monday.

Mitchell, a four-time All-Star, addressed the issues after the loss to the Kings.

“As a leader, I’m going to continue to push — and it’s going to click,” Mitchell said. “I’m not worried. It’s concerning that we haven’t been consistent through the first 10 games, but we can’t worry about it now. We just have to find a way to find it. It starts with me and I’ll be better.”

Mitchell has been superb with averages of 28.7 points, 5.4 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.1 steals in nine games played.

But his shooting has been off during the road trip. He has shot below 35 percent in each game, hitting just 22 of 66 shots (33.3 percent) while posting his three lowest-scoring outputs of the season (20, 21, 22).

Perhaps most troubling against the Kings was the defense that allowed 110 points through the first three quarters. Sacramento finished shooting 59 percent from the field and had four players score 20 or more points.

Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff was highly disappointed with the showing.

“It’s an 82-game schedule, and the best teams are the teams that perform at their best most nights,” Bickerstaff said. “We have not competed at a defensive level that we’re accustomed to. And again, we’ll take a look at things systematically and find out if there are answers. But we know our defense works. We just have to do a better job of executing.”

Portland is experiencing its own issues with four straight losses and it completed an 0-3 road trip with Tuesday’s 115-99 loss to the Utah Jazz.

The Trail Blazers, who traded away high-scoring guard Damian Lillard shortly before the season, failed to reach 100 points for the fourth time in 10 games.

Portland trailed by just two points early in the final quarter before going scoreless for 5:43. Meanwhile, Utah ripped off 16 straight points to seal the win.

“We were stuck on 93 for I don’t know how long,” Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. “We created some decent shots, not great, but decent. We just couldn’t make shots and we seem to have those kind of stretches.”

Portland also committed 17 turnovers — with seven players having two or more miscues.

“We’ve got to take care of the ball,” said forward Jerami Grant, who committed two turnovers and scored a team-best 26 points. “With a lot of new people in the rotation, we’re trying to figure each other out.”

Deandre Ayton added 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Trail Blazers.

The Cavaliers have won the past four meetings with Portland. Cleveland’s victories last season were by 18 at home and six in Portland.

–Field Level Media

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