Cavaliers focused on improving ball movement going forward

Ante Žižić active but limited, Larry Nance day-to-day for Sunday vs 76ers

Mitch Spinell
November 16, 2019 - 3:46 pm
Cleveland Cavaliers head coach John Beilein (left) and guard Collin Sexton (right)

© Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

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After Thursday night’s 108-97 loss against the Miami Heat, Cavaliers head coach John Beilein referenced how his team ranked 27th in the NBA in assists.

The 4-7 Cavs currently rank 29th in the league in that category, and when asked why the team has struggled in moving the ball around, Beilein didn’t have a definite reason, but he proposed one at the team’s practice on Saturday.

“I think that it’s probably [the players] having a lot of courage that ‘I can carry this team on my back’, ‘I can split these four defenders, and make the play’.”; and it’s not a selfish thing. It’s a thing that, they’re trying to win the game, they don’t see the forest from the trees,” said Beilein.

Now, the Cavs are focused on producing more in their ball movement, and Beilein is even keeping track of all the team’s passes as a means for improvement.

“We had two hundred fifty-five passes in the game [against Miami]. That’s not a good number of passes,” said the Cavs coach. “Three hundred is the number we’d like to have, and the ball did not move the way it’s going to move.”

Collin Sexton, who recorded three of Cleveland’s 18 assists in Thursday’s game, also commented on the team’s lack of ball movement against the Heat.

“We got stagnant on offense. We started watching each other work. We got to make sure we move without the ball…make sure that we just continue to get better.”

Sexton also added, “I feel like that’s the one improvement without the wait. More assists, more togetherness.”

The Cavaliers will need to move the ball around more than they have in the previous two games, where they recorded their two lowest assist totals of the season (13 against Philadelphia, 18 against Miami).

Along with discussing an emphasis on better ball movement, Beilein also discussed the statuses of some of his sidelined players, including Larry Nance Jr., who re-injured his left thumb in Thursday night’s contest.

Beilein described Nance as “day to day”, as the power forward was held out of Saturday practice and whose status for Sunday’s home game against Philadelphia is unknown.

“We’ll just have to wait and see. We don’t expect any huge damage there, but you never know.”

Beilein also commented on the status of rookie shooting guard Dylan Windler, who has not played yet this season due to a lower left leg injury. Beilein also said Windler could play with the Cavs’s G-League affiliate Canton Charge before making his NBA debut.

When asked about when Windler could return, Beilein responded, “I wish I could give you a date.”

The Cavs head coach also added that center Ante Žižić – who had been out all season due to plantar fasciitis – would be available for this Sunday against the Sixers, though Beilein noted that Žižić would be limited in his return.

The team could certainly use help from Žižić against big man Joel Embiid and Philadelphia, who beat the Cavs 98-97 on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center. Sunday’s game will be the Cavs’ last before embarking on a three-game road trip against New York, Miami, and Dallas, respectively.