Dribbles: Cavs Look A Lot Like They Did In First Round, Except These Are The Celtics

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 120-95 Game 1 road loss to the Boston Celtics on Tuesday. …

Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers, Jrue Holiday, Boston Celtics, NBA

1. Man, I just don’t know. There are no easy answers here. The Celtics turned that into about 36 minutes of garbage time.

2. If the Cavs are going to pull an upset in this series — and it would indeed be a major upset — every last player has to bring their “A-game” on the road. 

3. Instead, nobody did.

4. The Cavs can’t fart around like they did in the Magic series and expect to survive. They need to move the ball, make shots, and play a sharp and crisp brand of basketball. 

5. They did none of that.

6. Otherwise, Boston is going to make you wish you could just call it a night — like, in the third quarter. That pretty much sums up Game 1. 

7. With 9 minutes left in the fourth, I found myself wishing for a running clock. I think that describes both teams as well. This almost felt like a scrimmage.

8. Also, I don’t know that Jarrett Allen (ribs) will be able to play in this series. The Cavs don’t have much of a chance even if he does. But if he doesn’t, it very well could be a sweep.

9. Listen, I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer here, and I intend to watch and write about every game. I’ve also been covering the NBA long enough to know that one game doesn’t make a series. Neither do two. Then again, three can if a team goes up 3-0. 

10. Anyway, my point is this — with great production and a little dumb luck, anything can happen. But trust me when I say the Cavs will need plenty of both to get out of this series alive.

11. Again, on Tuesday, none of that happened. The effort was there, but why have the Cavs looked so lost offensively in eight playoff games? It’s like they’re just seeing each other for the first time in a game of shirts and skins.

12. Stats in this game are meaningless because very few of them (OK, none) translated to keeping it close. Donovan Mitchell led the way with 33 points, and I could watch that man play every minute of every night. But I also know that man needs some help.

13. Evan Mobley had 17, though most came when the game was way out of reach. Offensively, he’s just sort of been hanging around. He continues to do an excellent job defensively and in rebounding (13 vs. Celtics). That’s not enough. Darius Garland scored 14, Isaac Okoro had 11.

14. Max Strus was 2-of-8 shooting, Caris LeVert 2-of-6, Sam Merrill 0-of-5. Not going anywhere with any of that.

15. Again, the Cavaliers aren’t as talented as the Celtics. Not many teams are. Boston finished with the league’s best record (64-18). Jaylen Brown was fantastic with 32 points and Derrick White went for 25 on 7-of-12 shooting on 3-pointers. Jayson Tatum added 18. It was just an utterly dominant showing through and through.

16. Now, here’s where I’ll offer a single excuse: The Cavs just played an intense Game 7 two days before this one. (Of course, that was much of their own doing — as they dug themselves an 18-point hole.) So, there was highly likely some fatigue.

17. I get that. But why do the Cavaliers look worse in the playoffs than they did in the regular season? That I don’t get. And yes, I know, they could be maddening in the regular season, too. Whatever it is, they’d better leave it in the dust real fast and find some extra resolve. Otherwise, this series will remain every bit this ugly, and that much I can promise.

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