Game Night Observations: Evan Mobley At The Line And The Cedi Osman Experience

Game Night Observations: Evan Mobley at the line and The Cedi Osman Experience

You must have an active subscription to read this story.

Click Here to subscribe Now!

 Danny Cunningham covers the Cleveland Cavaliers for 850 ESPN Cleveland and You can find him on Twitter at @RealDCunningham

The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Charlotte Hornets 120-104 on Tuesday night to complete their four-game road trip.

Beating the Hornets on the surface is rarely an impressive feat. They’re a team that has the goal of winning the upcoming NBA Draft Lottery while the Cavs are headed in an entirely different direction. But, winning a game in the fashion that the Cavs did on Tuesday night without Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen is a reason for the team to feel good about itself.

There were a number of reasons why the Cavs won by such a large margin on Tuesday, but Evan Mobley being the best player on the floor was a big one. Mobley finished the night with 26 points on 16 shots, six rebounds, a pair of assists, a steal, and a block.

One of the things for Mobley that’s starting to stand out offensively is how often he’s searching out contact on the offensive end of the floor. On Tuesday night, he got to the foul line six times, which is consistent to what he’s been over the last couple of weeks. From the start of the season until the end of February, Mobley had been averaging 3.7 free throw attempts per game. In the month of March that’s up to 5.7 attempts per game.

While the percentage Mobley shoots from the line needs to improve (shooting 65 percent in March), it’s a great sign that he’s getting to the line as frequently as he is. His offensive game has improved steadily throughout the year, but this is one of the ways he can take things to the next level. It’s often pointed out how the next step for him may be expanding his game beyond the arc, but it may also be finding himself at the foul line scoring with the clock stopped more frequently.

Mobley, obviously, wasn’t the only bright spot for the Cavs on Tuesday, with good games had by Caris LeVert and Darius Garland elsewhere in the starting lineup, but he was certainly the most impactful.

The Cedi Osman Experience

The Cavs took control of the game on Tuesday night with Cedi Osman on the floor in the second quarter. Osman hasn’t been a permanent fixture of the rotation lately, and has been very up and down when he has played. He may produce more ‘no, no, no, YES’ moments than any player on the roster, and the experience of watching him play is almost unlike anything else.

For instance, Osman missed a layup in the second quarter on a play where he probably should have tossed a lob to Mobley. He followed that up by banking in a 3-pointer and exploding for 12 points in the second quarter alone and had 21 points by time the Cavs started the fourth quarter with a 22-point lead.

Osman finished the night with 24 points on the bench on six made 3-pointers in 30 minutes of play.

There are plenty of nights when Osman can’t stay on the floor because of defensive lapses. Those still existed on Tuesday night, but they’re much easier to stomach when his outside shot is finding the bottom of the net. It’s a trade off the Cavs have to be willing to accept at times, but whether or not that will be the case in meaningful playoff minutes is yet to be seen.

Here to stay

On Tuesday morning the Cavs agreed to a multi-year contract with guard Sam Merrill. Merrill previously was on a 10-day contract that expired earlier this week and spent most of this year playing for the Cavs’ G League affiliate, the Cleveland Charge.

Merrill’s deal is for the remainder of this season and runs through the 2024-25 season, but league sources told that the next two years are both non-guaranteed.

To date, Merrill has played just one game for the Cavs. Whether or not he contributes down the stretch of this season or next year for the team is to be seen, but this new deal makes him an option, at the very least.

Finally winning on the road

Believe it or not, the road trip that the Cavaliers completed on Tuesday night was the first trip this season of three or more games that the Cavaliers finished with a winning record, taking care of business in three out of the four games. Obviously, with the Hornets near the bottom of the standings, these two wins aren’t overly impressive, but finding a way to split the games in Miami can be seen as a good sign.

Magic number

After the win on Tuesday night the magic number for the Cleveland Cavaliers to clinch a spot in the top six of the Eastern Conference is down to six.

The Cavs also equaled last season’s win total of 44 with the victory on Tuesday night with 11 games left to play. Finishing with 50 or more wins would more than likely bring home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, and is something that absolutely should be in the sights of the Cavaliers to finish the season.