Notes, quotes and observations after the Cavaliers fell to the Celtics 103-96 Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
1. It is far too early to make a pronouncement on rookie Collin Sexton’s future with the Cavs.
2. He might not have the court vision to be a point guard. He has a long way to go to develop a consistent 3-point shot.
3. But there’s no doubt he has speed. Maybe not pre-Achilles John Wall speed, but a burst that enables him to get to the basket and be dangerous when he does.
4. Another thing that can be said of the 20-year-old who was the eighth overall pick, when he makes a mistake, he works diligently to correct it.
5. When he commits a turnover, he races back and tries to get a steal. After missing six easy shots at the rim on Saturday in a home loss to the Mavericks, he said that was his focus going into Tuesday.
6. “Since last game I’ve been working on layups, layups, layups,” Sexton said. “Last game I missed a great bit … easy layups I usually make. That was one thing I continued to work on this week and make sure I worked on the 3-ball because teams are daring me to shoot. I have to knock it down for my teammates to open everything else up.”
7. Against the Celtics, Sexton nearly became the first Cavs player to record a 30-point game this season. Every other team has had at least one individual with a 30-point night, although the Heat have only had three.
8. Sexton has scored 29 points twice, Cedi Osman once. Jordan Clarkson has totaled 28 twice. Osman had another chance at Washington on Jan. 29, when he scored 26 and went 2 for 8 from the free throw line.
9. Sexton tied his career-high for points in a half with 18. He finished with 27 points in 42 minutes, with four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
10. He hit 11 of 24 from the field and 3 for 7 from long range.
11. His 46th double-digit scoring performance tied him with the Mavs’ Luka Doncic for the most among rookies this season. Sexton posted his ninth game with at least 20 points and his first since Dec. 8.
12. But more importantly, Sexton hit 7 of 13 shots in the paint – 3 for 4 in the first quarter.
13. “When he feels that he can get by you, he’s going to test you,” Cavs coach Larry Drew said. “That was very clear at the beginning of the game that he had his mind made up that he was going to get to the cup come hell or high water. He turned the corner a few times and got to the basket and made some terrific plays. He’s got that type of ability. He’s got the type of skills.
14. “I thought he did a great job tonight. He played against a really good Boston defense. I thought he was aggressive at the very beginning and I thought it really set the tone for the rest of the game.”
15. What Drew liked most was how Sexton reacted when the Celtics collapsed.
16. “He’ll turn the corner, he’ll get to the basket at times, but when the defense does collapse, he’s got to find open guys and I thought he grew in that area tonight,” Drew said.
17. Sexton said assistant coach James Posey has been preaching to him about making the right pass when that happens.
18. “Coach Pose, he always (tells) me I usually draw a crowd and I draw a lot of eyes,” Sexton said. “Usually everybody’s watching, so I can throw it over the top and get my teammates involved and get open looks and assists.
19. “I feel like I can use my speed to my advantage and also to open my teammates up.”
20. Asked if that was the most confident he’s felt attacking the rim this season, Sexton said, “Not at all. Most recently yes. I’ve just got to continue to work on getting fouled and finishing through.”
21. That would seem difficult, but Sexton said the Cavs foul him in practice so he can learn to fight through the contact and score.
22. “Think he was attacking the basket very well,” guard Alec Burks said of Sexton. “Think he played under control, which is fast for him, and he’s very athletic, so think he made great plays and the right reads.”
23. Burks, who arrived in a Nov. 29 trade from Utah, said that was not the most confident he’s seen Sexton.
24. “Nah. I think he’s been confident ever since I got here. I think it really clicked tonight,” Burks said.
25. With the trade deadline at 3 p.m. Thursday and the next game Friday at Washington, Burks may have played his last game as a Cav.
26. With an expiring contract that carries an $11.5 million salary this season, Burks looked like a trade chip when he arrived in Cleveland in the Kyle Korver deal.
27. Jason Lloyd of The Athletic reported that the Cavs remained engaged in talks with the Houston Rockets late Tuesday that would send shooting guard Brandon Knight and a first-round pick to Cleveland for Burks. Knight’s salary is $15.6 million in 2019-20, which means he could be traded for more assets next season.
28. If Burks’ time with the Cavs is done, he showed what he could bring to a contending team, scoring 21 points with four rebounds, two assists and two steals in 37 minutes.
29. Until this season, Burks, 27, had spent his entire career in Utah. He seemed unfazed about what could transpire in the next two days.
30. “I don’t believe in rumors until something happens,” Burks said. “If nothing happens, then I’m not going nowhere. If something happens it happens. I enjoy my time here and hopefully it keeps going.”
31. Burks’ name has been mentioned everywhere in reports regarding the Cavs, but he said it’s not hard to block it out.
32. “Nah, because I don’t listen to it. It’s other people (talking) about it. I don’t hear it. If I don’t hear it then how am I going to know about it?”
33. Burks said he didn’t even want updates from his agent in the next 48 hours.
34. “Nah. Unless he’s telling me to get on a flight. That’s all I want to know,” Burks said.
35. In case you were wondering why Drew played Sexton and backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova together, Drew said that was not planned. Nik Stauskas and Wade Baldwin, two guards acquired in Sunday’s trade that sent Rodney Hood to Portland, arrived but did not play. (Both are also on expiring contracts and could be dealt.) Cedi Osman was out with a sprained right ankle, Tristan Thompson still sidelined with a sore left foot.
36. “That was just kind of playing the hand that’s dealt,” Drew said of using Dellavedova and Sexton together. “We were short of bodies tonight, so we were kind of forced to play small at times.
37. “But I like both guys in there. Gives me two guys that can handle the basketball, gives me two guys capable of making plays. They seem to play well together and they seem to play well off one other. Something that I experimented with a few games back and we’ll continue to do that, especially if we play against teams that allow us to match up with both of those guys in the game.”
38. Sexton liked it because it allowed him to get a breather.
39. “He could bring the ball up and I could go to the corner and set up. Then when he needed a rest, I would dribble it up,” Sexton said. “We just fed off each other.”
40. Drew was proud of the determination and effort the Cavs showed against the Celtics, who had beaten them by a combined 53 points in the first two meetings this season. The Celtics (35-19) are tied with the Pacers for third in the Eastern Conference. They have won five straight and 10 of their last 11. Against the Cavs, they had starters Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris out with injuries.
41. “It’s not easy playing against a team like that because they’re a very talented team,” Drew said. “At the end of the day, they have a chance to be the top team coming out of the East. They’ve had a phenomenal year. They have terrific players and I thought our guys laid it on the line.
42. “We had a few pockets where we weren’t as good on the offensive end and we weren’t as good defensively, but we did not give up. We kept fighting. We got back into the ballgame and I was very proud of them.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.