Collin Sexton has turned his season and possibly the Cavs’ season completely around in the matter of a week.
Cleveland had struggled to find their rhythm this season but with wins against the title-contending Philadelphia 76ers and the Western Conference powerhouse Houston Rockets, the Cavs are looking to make it interesting this season.
The biggest weakness for the Wine and Gold was the complete inability to close out games, especially on the road. Cleveland’s biggest low point on the season was against the Orlando Magic in just the 10th game of the season. Cleveland had a comfortable lead with a minute to go and one miscue led to another and Orlando hits a buzzer-beating game-winning shot.
In the closing minutes of the Philadelphia and Houston game, you wonder who will take over in the final minutes. On the defensive end it seems to be just about anybody but in the previous two games, newly named starter David Nwaba has appeared to find his footing in the NBA in his third season.
On the offensive side, you see a rookie that has helped lead the team in Kevin Love’s absence and is finding his shooting touch. Sexton came under fire early in the season by unnamed veterans in the locker room when they stated that Sexton simply doesn’t know how to play at the NBA level.
Sexton didn’t reach the 20 point plateau in the first 11 games of the season but has scored over 20 points in four of the last seven games. This can be contributed to the recent insertion of Sexton into the starting lineup.
Sexton has brought the hustle all season but it seems like he has shifted into an even higher gear in the last week. The Alabama product has shown flashes of dominance on the defensive end of the court and has shown signs of being able to finish at the rim but his biggest struggle until recently has been shooting the ball.
In the month of October, Sexton shot 42% from the field and 11% from the three-point line. In three games, Sexton shot under 30% and even shot under 20% in one game.
Fast forward to the month of November and through 11 games he’s shooting 45% from the field and a smoldering 61% from beyond the arc. In six games Sexton has shot over 50%, highlighted by Saturday night’s game against the Houston Rockets where Sexton poured in a career-high 29 points on 14/21 shooting.
Lacking a mid-range and three-point shooting touch, Sexton had become one-dimensional on the offensive side of the floor and teams were practically begging the rookie to take a shot outside the paint.
On Saturday night you saw just how deadly Sexton’s shooting touch has become in the month of November. Sexton was attacking in transition and hitting the mid-range jumper with ease.
The only aspect of Sexton’s game that could be improved when looking at his play this week is the passing. Sexton has never been a pass-first point guard and has only averaged 2.5 assists per game this season. The assists usually come from a different source for the Cavs with the team leader being Kevin love with a measly 3.5 apg, this is a polar opposite compared to last year’s leader, LeBron James, having 9.1 assists per game.
Many Cavs fans are hoping for loss after loss but with the lottery odds being put into effect this season, the Cavs have no real incentive to tank for the absolute bottom of the NBA. Don’t be surprised or upset if the Cavs can eke out some victories every now and then.
While Cleveland will more than likely get a reality check in the near future, nights like Saturday show that the team still cares and they put 100% into the game.
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