CLEVELAND, Ohio – Wednesday’s Cavaliers game against Boston had been a nightmare for forward Cedi Osman.
Through the third quarter, Osman had missed his first nine shots, his only two points a pair of free throws.
As teammates often do, Collin Sexton spent part of the break prior to the final quarter making sure Osman knew the squad had confidence in him.
“I said we believe in you,” Sexton said. “We know what you can do. Just make the next one. You miss that one, just make the next one. Don’t have that on your mind when you’re shooting it. Short-term memory.”
Osman responded. He made three 3-pointers in the final 12 minutes. His most important cut the Celtics’ lead to 94-92 with 4:34 left. The Cavaliers couldn’t complete the rally in the 112-106 loss, but Osman finished with 13 points for a very short-handed Cleveland team.
“He made the one that we really needed, and he was big for us tonight,” Sexton said. “He made some open ones, but he missed some. And we was right there, picking him up. That’s what teammates are here for.”
Osman, who started the season shooting the 3-ball well, has recently struggled to string together productive offensive games. Since connecting on 42% of his 3-point attempts in January, Osman has sagged to 33.3% since Feb. 1, per NBA.com stats.
Since Feb. 9, over 10 games, Osman is 29.6% from the arc, after a 39.3% success rate up to that point.
Osman’s role has evolved this season. He’s sometimes played his natural slasher position and other times he’s been pure 3-and-D guy, spacing the floor and shooting open jumpers. He’s done both within the same game, and that’s usually when he’s been at his best.
Still just 24, he’s still developing as a player.
“He hasn’t reached his ceiling yet, either,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said before Wednesday’s game. “That’s the fun part of our job and putting this whole thing together and moving it forward is we got a bunch of guys that we can help get better and who want to get better.”
Osman’s effectiveness has often revolved around his 3-point shooting. The Cavs can get him open, and he’s been effective off screens or in spot-up situations. According to NBA.com, Osman is shooting 38.5% from distance in catch-and-shoot situations.
The fourth quarter showed how Osman can benefit from the space that’s created. On one play, Sexton drove into the lane and spun off Tremont Waters. He found Osman on the wing for an open 3-pointer.
With Sexton and his teammates believing in Osman, that togetherness creates a culture where even if misses pile up, it’s nothing to fret over.
“You got to,” Bickerstaff said of Osman continuing to shoot. “We didn’t have anywhere else to go. He was open. He works on his shot. He trusts his training. Got the opportunities. You gotta shoot ‘em, and he made ‘em.”
The Cavs will continue their homestand Saturday against the Denver Nuggets, with tipoff set for 7:30 p.m.