CLEVELAND (AP) — Evan Mobley isn’t just any rookie. Cleveland’s young forward has had a major impact in his first season as one of the biggest reasons for the Cavs’ turnaround.
After missing five recent games with a sprained ankle, the 20-year-old Mobley is back and ready for his biggest game as a pro as the Cavs face the Brooklyn Nets in one of the Eastern Conference’s two play-in games on Tuesday.
Mobley averaged 15 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 69 games.
But it’s his defensive presence in the lane that makes Cleveland a solid defensive team and perhaps capable of an upset.
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have played in the NBA Finals and Olympics, so they’ve been in just about every kind of big game there is.
The play-in tournament is something new for them and the Brooklyn Nets certainly didn’t expect to experience it this year.
The Cavaliers weren’t sure they would either, after losing 50 games last season.
Now one of the teams will extend its season into the playoffs by winning the opener of the tournament Tuesday night in Brooklyn.
The winner is No. 7 in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The loser gets in as No. 8 by winning Friday.