CLEVELAND – After posting his second straight double-double in a 106-92 win over the Utah Jazz, Timofey Mozgov paying big dividends for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Mozgov, the 28-year-old center acquired for two future first-round picks from the Denver Nuggets Jan. 7, scored 16 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked two shots, after posting 15 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks in a 108-94 win over the division-leading Chicago Bulls.
Perhaps it is too early to say that Mozgov is the proverbial missing piece to the Cavaliers title hopes this season, but if his first seven games in the Wine and Gold are any indication, then Cleveland got a flat-out steal for the 7’1 250-pound native from St. Petersburg.
Along with the return of LeBron James, Cleveland is 4-1, in those games, you see a more up-tempo, attacking and balanced offense from Cleveland. With Mozgov protecting the rim and blocking shots, the Cavaliers have suddenly been playing with a much-needed intensity on defense.
In his seven games with Cleveland, Mozgov has averaged a career high 56.4 percent shooting from the field, 10.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, after averaging 8.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and shooting 50.4 percent in Denver.
While Cleveland has had all five starters in double figures in back-to-back nights for the first time in franchise history, the key to the Cavaliers 4-1 resurgence is due not only to the return of No.23, but the seven-foot giant from Mother Russia.
With Mozgov, the Cavaliers have a dominant force in the low post capable of grabbing rebounds, running out on transition and most importantly protect the rim and offer Cleveland some much-needed defense in the middle.
In watching last night’s game, Cavs fans on social media were chirping that LBJ found his new Z, in referring to James finding his new low-post partner similar to the retired Zydrunas Ilgauskas. While it’s a little too early to start comparing Mozgov to Ilgauskas, Cavaliers fans were treated to reminders of the famed LBJ-Z 1-2 inside-outside punch Wednesday night.
Going forward, it seems that Mozgov has solved a lot of the ills that plagued Cleveland throughout the year in lack of defense at the rim. While Anderson Varejao offered some resistance down low, Mozgov has shown that he is an upgrade—and also a true center—which is what Cleveland needed the most, and now finally has in the Wizard of Moz.
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