Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers are keen to have Rookie of the Year contender Evan Mobley fit again as soon as possible following an ankle injury.

Mobley went down in Monday's 107-101 win over the Orlando Magic, having played just 13 minutes.

There was no official word from the Cavs on his status, but ESPN reported it was a left ankle sprain, with X-rays coming back negative.

Mobley has averaged 14.9 points per game this year, while his 8.3 rebounds, 2.1 dunks and 1.6 blocks lead all rookies.

No Cavalier has played more than his 2,274 minutes, meaning the 20-year-old center will be a big miss as long as he is out while the Eastern Conference's seventh seeds prepare for the playoffs.

"With Evan, it's sometimes hard to tell because he's so quiet," said team-mate Love. "But I think he rolled it pretty good.

"It just takes the air out of the building and takes the air out of the team. It definitely has gutted us to lose Evan, whether it be for a game, two games, three games, whatever it may be.

"We just need to keep fighting and hope he recovers quickly and can be back out there with us, because he means so much to the team."

The win over the Magic moved the Cavs to 42-33, ensuring their first winning season since 2017-18 and their first without LeBron James since 1997-98.

Mobley's is not the team's first injury either, with Jarrett Allen and Rajon Rondo each out since early March. Collin Sexton, Ricky Rubio and Dean Wade are all done for the season.

Those absences are having an impact, with the Cavs 7-12 in their past 19 games, and coach J.B. Bickerstaff acknowledged how hard it was for the team to deal with this latest setback against the Magic.

"They have continued to stick together, fight for one another," Bickerstaff said.

"The injuries take a toll on you mentally and can be a distraction, and through that distraction, we complicated the game to a point where we didn't have to.

"I thought if we were continuing to do the simple things over and over again, we were getting positive results. We figured out a way."

J.B. Bickerstaff worked with James Harden while the duo were with the Houston Rockets, and the Cleveland Cavaliers coach continues to be impressed by the Philadelphia 76ers man.

Harden registered 25 points, 11 assists and three rebounds as the in-form Sixers won a fifth straight game on Friday, beating the Cavs 125-119.

While Joel Embiid failed to hit his usual high marks, scoring 22 points, Tyrese Maxey stepped up with 33 points, including five threes.

Harden added two three-pointers to the 76ers tally, moving onto 2,559 for his career, meaning he only needs one more to match Reggie Miller for third on the all-time list (regular season only).

"He sees the game a step ahead," Bickerstaff told reporters when asked about Harden.

"He's not one of those guys that's just going so fast he's waiting for the offense to react.

"He's forcing the defense to react. He's one of the most creative decision-makers and passers in our game. He also knows when to make the play that's right in front of him."

Reflecting on his team's display, Bickerstaff – who was fined $20,000 after being ejected from the game during Monday's defeat to the Charlotte Hornets – was satisfied despite a third-straight loss.

"We felt and looked like ourselves for the first time in a while," he said. "We just happened to run into a really good basketball team."

Harden finished with at least 20 points and 10 assists for a third game in four, yet the former Brooklyn Nets shooting guard was not thrilled with his own display.

"I've got to do a better job of being more solid, I've got to be smarter so I can be out there and help my team," he told reporters.

Yet Maxey stepped up regardless, and Harden was impressed.

"On any given night, it can be any one of us to go off," Harden said of his team-mate. "Tyrese really picked it up for us tonight." Coach Doc Rivers, meanwhile, labelled Maxey "a fearless kid".

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo thinks the Cleveland Cavaliers deserve more respect after their impressive defeat of the reigning champions.

The Cavs moved to 30-19 for the season, with eight wins from their past nine games, thanks to a dominant 115-99 home victory over the Bucks.

Cleveland have already comfortably surpassed their win total from last season, when they claimed just 22 victories and were in the draft lottery for the third year running, and only one side in the Eastern Conference has won more than their 30 games in 2021-22.

After falling behind in the first quarter, they dominated the middle phase of Thursday's game, beginning the second half with a three-pointer triple in 48 seconds before marching into a 93-72 lead.

Giannis tallied 26 points, nine rebounds and three assists on his return from a knee problem but his efforts were not enough.

Last year's Finals MVP said there is little doubt the Cavs are now contenders not just for the playoffs, but for the title.

"This is not the Cleveland we knew over the past few years," said Giannis, who brought chicken wings to his post-game media conference.

"They have a good team, and we have to respect them more. They're a playoff team and are fighting for the title themselves."

Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of arguably their best win of the season: "It's who we are. We take on all challenges.

"We don't run from anybody. We don't back down. We give everybody our best shot."

Counterpart Mike Budenholzer had few complaints about the result, adding of the Cavs: "They played lights out tonight.

"I don't know what the right analogy is, but they played really well. They beat us pretty good.

"Live ball turnovers is when transition defense is the toughest, and we made a lot of them."

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo thinks the Cleveland Cavaliers deserve more respect after their impressive defeat of the reigning champions.

The Cavs moved to 30-19 for the season, with eight wins from their past nine games, thanks to a dominant 115-99 home victory over the Bucks.

Cleveland have already comfortably surpassed their win total from last season, when they claimed just 22 victories and were in the draft lottery for the third year running, and only one side in the Eastern Conference has won more than their 30 games in 2021-22.

After falling behind in the first quarter, they dominated the middle phase of Thursday's game, beginning the second half with a three-pointer triple in 48 seconds before marching into a 93-72 lead.

Giannis tallied 26 points, nine rebounds and three assists on his return from a knee problem but his efforts were not enough.

Last year's Finals MVP said there is little doubt the Cavs are now contenders not just for the playoffs, but for the title.

"This is not the Cleveland we knew over the past few years," said Giannis, who brought chicken wings to his post-game media conference.

"They have a good team, and we have to respect them more. They're a playoff team and are fighting for the title themselves."

Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of arguably their best win of the season: "It's who we are. We take on all challenges.

"We don't run from anybody. We don't back down. We give everybody our best shot."

Counterpart Mike Budenholzer had few complaints about the result, adding of the Cavs: "They played lights out tonight.

"I don't know what the right analogy is, but they played really well. They beat us pretty good.

"Live ball turnovers is when transition defense is the toughest, and we made a lot of them."

Coach J. B. Bickerstaff lauded Evan Mobley's "will to win" after the rookie "stepped up big" in the Cleveland Cavaliers' stunning comeback victory against the Boston Celtics.

The Cavaliers moved to 9-5 with their sixth win in seven games on Saturday, making this their best start to a season since 2016-17 – a year in which LeBron James led the team to the third of four straight NBA Finals visits.

This latest 91-89 triumph was particularly impressive as Cleveland trailed by 19 points when Mobley returned to the game late in the third quarter.

"We keep talking about chemistry and bonding and belief in one another, and that was on full display tonight," said Bickerstaff. "That's the only way you can explain it.

"There's no basketball reason we should have won that game, but there was a collective spirit that refused to allow us to lose that game. That's what we keep talking about brewing in that locker room.

"Don't get me wrong, some guys made critical plays and carried their weight, but it's the spirit of that basketball team, that has that fight in them, that won't give up."

Several of those critical plays belonged to third overall pick Mobley, who finished with 19 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and two steals in 40 minutes. Of those, 12 points, two blocks and a steal came in the fourth quarter as he played its entirety.

No player in the NBA scored more clutch points than Mobley's six on Saturday, albeit tied with the Celtics' Jayson Tatum – who the Cavs man was asked to stop.

 

"It's the will to win basketball games," Bickerstaff said of Mobley's best trait. "Literally the only thing that matters to him is: how do I help this team win?

"Not only was it the block, but it's the free throws, it's the baseline jumper, it's the post move to get to the finish. It was an array of different things.

"Then at the end of the game, we had him on Jayson Tatum. We put him on the other team's best player. Whatever it takes to win, he's willing to do it.

"He's not satisfied with these small victories or these small moments. He understands what he wants long-term, and he understands that in order to get there, you've got to do it every night.

"He didn't start out blazing, he was working his way through it in the first half. Then as the game got going, he found his way. And when it was clutch time, he stepped up big."

Mobley has quickly proven a threat from anywhere on the court in his short time in the NBA but is especially effective at the rim, making 70.1 per cent of his attempts.

In fact, 36.8 per cent of his successful field goal attempts have been dunks, with his 32 made dunks ranking joint-third in the NBA. Team-mate Jarrett Allen's 47 lead the way, while no team can rival the Cavaliers' combined 98.

Allen's latest dunk put Cleveland up with 35.9 seconds left against Boston, and Darius Garland said: "It's super fun, just bringing all the crowd into it, the arena gets pumped up. I like seeing it a lot."

Bickerstaff, whose team rank fourth in the league for points in the paint (672), added: "We want to put pressure on the rim, and however we can do that, we'll take it.

"Jarrett is an elite lob threat, and when you put that much pressure on the rim, defenses get concerned. Even if it's only two points, it's an emphatic two points, and defenses don't like that. Then they start to collapse and we've got wide open threes.

"We've got guys who we feel like can dominate the paint – that's our objective: offensively, we want to dominate the paint as much as we can."

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