Central Notes: Cavs, Connaughton, Nwora, Turner

It has been an unusual season so far for the Cavaliers, who won eight straight games after dropping their opener, but have since lost five in a row. According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, head coach J.B. Bickerstaff spoke at length to his team in the locker room after Wednesday’s loss to Milwaukee and told reporters that his message was about avoiding complacency and adjusting mentally to being a playoff-caliber team.

“We’ve got kind of a fat cat mentality,” Bickerstaff said. “We went out and won eight games in a row. Everyone was giving us love and praising us. We got really comfortable. We are the team that won those eight games though. We are a really good basketball team. This is about maturation and growth from a team as a whole.

“Not one guy is going to do it. Not two guys are going to do it. Just understanding the difference between being the guy who is chasing and the guy who is being chased and how hard it is to win in the NBA. You have to show up every single night. We’re still learning that unfortunately. It’s all the same mentality, the mentality of the fat cat who is comfortable and complacent. You cannot succeed in this league playing this way.”

The Cavaliers will have a good opportunity to snap their losing streak on Friday when they host the banged-up Hornets.

Here are a few more notes from around the Central:

  • After being upgraded from questionable to probable for Wednesday’s game vs. Cleveland, Bucks wing Pat Connaughton was ultimately ruled out, as Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. However, head coach Mike Budenholzer insisted that Connaughton didn’t suffer a setback, telling reporters that the team was just playing it safe, per Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). Connaughton has yet to play this season due to a calf strain, but appears to be on the verge of returning.
  • Bucks swingman Jordan Nwora scored a season-high 21 points in Wednesday’s win, making 5-of-9 three-pointers. Bobby Portis was among those thrilled by the success of his teammate, who re-signed with Milwaukee as a restricted free agent in September. “We’re always hard on him about just being a complete basketball player and not just being a scorer, sharing the basketball and things like that and I finally think just the light bulb is turning on for him a little bit,” Portis said, according to Nehm.
  • Myles Turner is averaging a career-high 17.9 PPG and 8.7 RPG through his first seven games this season, exhibiting more consistency than he has in the past. As Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star writes, Turner’s improved play raises questions about how he fits into the Pacers‘ plans going forward. The veteran center is in a contract year and has long been considered a trade candidate, but might also be an ideal candidate for a renegotiation-and-extension if he wants to stay in Indiana, as we outlined on Wednesday.
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