Cavs Notes: Mitchell, Garland, Small Forward, Okoro

New Cavaliers backcourt mates Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland showed off instant chemistry in their first game together on Wednesday, writes Chris Fedor of

Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said before the game that he wanted the two guards to look for their opportunities in the flow of the offense instead of taking a “your turn, my turn” approach, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN, and Bickerstaff was pleased with what he saw vs. Philadelphia.

“I thought it was pretty seamless the way they played together, the way that the ball moved and everybody got involved,” Bickerstaff said, per Fedor. “As long as we play in the same style we want to play where it isn’t just based on one guy, but it’s based on the team, I think it’s gonna work out well for us.”

While more time will likely be required to ensure that the two high-scoring guards are firing on all cylinders, Mitchell was pleasantly surprised with how quickly he and Garland meshed.

“I think we did a lot of things well,” Mitchell said. “You walk up the floor and it’s like, ‘He’s got it.’ But it’s not like, ‘He’s got it in isolation.’ It’s like, ‘He’s got it, make a play, create.’ I said in the locker room, we really didn’t call a lot of plays in the first half and it just speaks to our ball movement, playing together and trusting each other. It looked better than I anticipated.”

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • Caris LeVert got the first chance on Thursday to start at small forward alongside Mitchell, Garland, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen, but the team is still evaluating which player will be the best fit at the three, as Bontemps outlines in an ESPN story. Dean Wade and Isaac Okoro are among Cleveland’s other possible options at small forward. “It’s just going to be truly about the fit, and that’s going to be who makes those four guys better,” Bickerstaff said. “Who helps them on the offensive end of the floor? Who helps them on the defensive end of the floor? Who can protect guys in certain situations defensively? How does it help our matchups? Offensively, how does it help us space the floor? Those are all things we’re taking into consideration.”
  • Okoro spent the offseason focusing on his ball-handling, shooting, and finishing around the basket, as the defensive stalwart aims to become a more complete offensive player, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic believes the Cavaliers may still be one year away from taking a big jump forward, but believes they’re capable of another step in the right direction in 2022/23, projecting a 47-35 record and a sixth-place finish in the East.
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