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The First Week for the Cleveland Cavaliers

Max Strus Cavaliers
(AP Photo)

The Cleveland Cavaliers completed their first week of the 2023-2024 NBA season, playing three games and going 1-2. It wasn’t an amazing start to the season, but rather than overreact about the results, it’s important to see if anything much has changed from last year. 

Results Based Analysis

Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports

Narrowly beating the solid Brooklyn Nets and losing to a good Oklahoma City Thunder isn’t bad. Losing to the Indiana Pacers at home is worse until you consider that the Cavs were on a back-to-back, and they were missing Donovan Mitchell in addition to Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen, who have missed two and three games, respectively. So the record doesn’t look great, but it must be said that the Cavaliers are already hard done by injuries. 

The players that have played have been plagued with inconsistency. Max Strus was lights out in the opener but has since gone rather cold. Evan Mobley was able to show some things when asked to be the primary scorer with Garland and Mitchell out in game three, but he wasn’t a major factor in the first two games. Shockingly, the most consistently high-performing player for the Cavaliers has been Isaac Okoro. He’s playing great in his contract year. He’s shot the ball well from deep and looks much more aggressive, attacking the basket to good results. Okoro doesn’t look scared to dribble this year, and with his excellent perimeter defense, he’s been a revelation.

The most disappointing player has been Georges Niang, who was expected to bring range off the bench right away. He’s been ice-cold through three games so far, though, and if his shot isn’t falling, he’s a detriment on the court. 


The Way They Play

David Dermer/AP Photo

With the shooting additions and another year to get settled, play style changes were promised by the coaching staff. It’s hard to judge with so many key pieces missing, but so far, the offense doesn’t look any more complex than last year. The offense still defaults to isolations, pick, and rolls or dumping it to Mobley at the high post. 

The one major difference so far, though, has been the pace. It’s increased significantly this year, from 95.7 (30th in the NBA) to 100.5 so far, good for 15th in the league according to data from Basketball-Reference. Playing faster was a goal for the Cavs, and they have. It hasn’t resulted in a better offensive rating, but it’s hard to draw any conclusions considering the injuries. 

A big part of the increased pace has been in transition, which was something J.B. Bickerstaff emphasized. Mobley hasn’t led it as he said, but they have increased the frequency from 15.5% to 17.8%, according to data from



So far, the Cavaliers have looked a bit different, mostly playing faster. It hasn’t produced great results yet, but they have lacked key starters for every game and multiple for two out of three. Once everyone is back, it will be interesting to see if the changes stick and if they get more efficient with the increased pace. The most encouraging improvement has been Okoro’s excellent two-way game. It’s a tiny sample size, but so far, he and Mitchell have been the stars of the show. We’ll see if Mobley can continue to develop and if Niang can right the ship. If those things happen and Allen and Garland return, the Cavs are sitting pretty.


Patrick Yen is a contributor on Back Sports Page.  He has written for NBC, SB Nation, and a few more websites in his four-year sports journalism career. He has been the Back Sports Page beat writer for the Philadelphia 76ers and now the Cleveland Cavaliers. Patrick, a graduate of the Ohio State University, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but moved to Columbus, Ohio, early in his life and has lived there ever since. You can find more of Patrick on Twitter @pyen117.

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