CLEVELAND -- For the better part of the first half of 2017-2018 regular season, the Cleveland Cavaliers have gotten every opponent’s best shot, and they absorbed those proverbial punches in the form of blowout losses, both at home and on the road.
However, the Cavaliers (34-22) made three trades last week to acquire four new players, and with guards George Hill, Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood, as well as forward Larry Nance Jr. in the fold, they are 3-0 after their 120-112 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena Tuesday.
“These young guys that we have, able to shoot, drive or pass it, add a different element to our team,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “They’re playing free, having fun, and the biggest thing is Clarkson finished the game.
“George Hill, during a timeout, is talking to him and happy, and Tristan happy for Larry Nance. That’s what we’ve got to have. You want to win? You’ve got to sacrifice, and with our team that we have, whoever’s playing well is going to finish the game. They understand that, and it’s all about winning with this group.”
PHOTOS: Cleveland Cavaliers get redemption win over Oklahoma City Thunder ahead of All-Star break
Against the Thunder, the Cavaliers sunk 45 of their 88 attempts from the field (51.1 percent) and knocked down 16 of their 36 looks from three-point range (44.4 percent). Additionally, the Cavaliers got to the free-throw line 22 times, assisted on 24 baskets, stole six passes and blocked four shots.
Individually, the Cavaliers had six players score in double figures, including four off of the bench to complement the 37 tallied by small forward LeBron James.
Three of the Cavaliers’ four newest additions scored at least 13 points in the victory over the Thunder.
“I thought it was going to be a process,” Lue said. “It’s still going to be a process, but the first three games, I didn’t think that we’d not be decent, but they exceeded my expectations.”
Tuesday’s game was in stark contrast to the last time the Thunder and Cavaliers shared the floor at Quicken Loans Arena on January 20.
The Thunder shot a blistering 58 percent (58 of 100) from the field and 46.7 percent (14 of 30) from three-point range in the first matchup against the Cavaliers. Additionally, they hustled their way to 16 offensive rebounds, 28 free-throw attempts, nine steals and 37 assists.
But after the Cavaliers made three deals in the final hours before the trade deadline last Thursday, which saw six players (guards Iman Shumpert, Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade and forwards Channing Frye and Jae Crowder) and a first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft get dealt in exchange for Clarkson, Hood, Hill and Nance as well as a future selection, the focus is squarely back on pursuit of an NBA Championship.
“Going through a tough stretch this late in the season, about the last few weeks, has been tough for us, but I think bringing some new bodies, some fresh bodies kind of rejuvenated us,” Lue said.
“To come out and beat Minnesota, beat Boston and beat OKC, three teams that beat us pretty bad the last time we played them, it’s a huge stepping stone. We’ve got to continue to keep working. It’s a process. We’ve just got to keep playing well, keep getting better and hit our stride in April.”