Cavaliers back J.B. Bickerstaff despite quick playoff exit

Cleveland Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff will keep his job despite the team’s first-round exit from the NBA playoffs, according to team president Koby Altman. The Cavs fell in five games to the New York Knicks, drawing criticism for their tactics and failing to cope with the Knicks’ approach. However, Altman said the team had “a lot of support and respect for the job [Bickerstaff]’s done,” and praised him for instilling a culture of “accountability and hard work” during the regular season.

Bickerstaff took over as Cavaliers head coach in 2020, leading the team to a 44-28 record this season, compared to just 22-50 in his first campaign. Despite the playoff setback, Altman said there won’t be any “sweeping changes” to the roster this offseason, and expressed confidence that Bickerstaff would reflect on the team’s performance and grow from the experience. Cavaliers players also expressed support for the coach during exit interviews held after the series with the Knicks.

Altman cited the team’s No. 1 defensive rating in the league during the regular season as evidence of Bickerstaff’s coaching ability, and said the players had responded well to his leadership. Veteran guard Ricky Rubio, who re-signed with the team last summer, praised Bickerstaff for creating a positive atmosphere in the locker room, which had helped the team to build something for the long-term. Altman said Bickerstaff was “hard on himself,” but would learn from the playoff defeat and come back stronger next season.

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