Cavs Dribbles: Losing to Celtics No Big Deal, But Some Cleanup Wouldn’t Hurt

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 117-113 road loss to the Celtics on Wednesday. …Darius Garland Al Horford

1. It’s hard to know why, but since about January, the Cavs have been getting basically nothing from the bench. You don’t need stats to prove that. All you need is a simple eye test.

2. So, offseason priority No. 1 will be to fix that.

3. But let me pause for a second and stress that this was hardly a bad loss. The odds were against the Cavs. They were playing against one of the top two or three teams in the NBA in their own building. The Cavs are good — but not quite that good.

4. For the most part, you had to like the Cavs’ fight. You had to like how Donovan Mitchell kept them alive with a game-high 44 points. You had to like how Darius Garland hit a few big 3-pointers to make things interesting at the end. Garland finished with 29 points.

5. I said this the other day during my visit on the Mark Price podcast — but the Cavs (39-26) are about where they expected they would be at this point. They’re in second place in the Central Division, and fourth in the East, showing that they only need more big-game experience.

6. Well, games like this are how you get. So are the playoffs, and the Cavs are headed there, too. There was nothing wrong with the Cavs’ overall performance in this one and there’s nothing wrong with their direction. It’s hard to get too worked up when all that is the situation.

7. By the way, yes, Price invited me on his podcast — and that has to be a first, a former NBA All-Star interviewing an alleged writer. But that’s what happened. I’ve posted the entire pod at the bottom of these dribbles.

8. OK, back to the game. My other issue was the free throws. Cleveland was a rim-rattling 62 percent from the line, making just 13 of 21. C’mon, man. We’re too late in the season for that. Make 16 and this is a different game. There’s no excuse.

9. In a strange twist, Garland finished 0-of-3. He’s normally pretty reliable. But you’re not winning most road games if you miss eight free throws. It’s certainly not going to turn out well against the league’s elite.

10. As for the bench, aside from a few hot moments here and there from Caris LeVert, the Cavs are getting zilch. Ricky Rubio clearly isn’t the same (yet, if ever). Dean Wade and Cedi Osman are showing nothing. I don’t understand why others aren’t getting a chance. Now is the time to experiment. 

11. Like, why did you sign Danny Green if you’re not going to use him?

12. Anyway, I’ll go back to being nice again. Despite everything I mentioned, and an atrocious third quarter, the Cavs had an outside shot against a Finals squad from last season. And I’d venture to say the Celtics (45-18) are even better this year.

13. Evan Mobley added a quiet 12 points, and LeVert scored 10. But Jarrett Allen and Isaac Okoro each finished 2-of-5 shooting. They offered little. Okoro is as hot-and-cold as the others I called out. At least he went 5-of-5 from the line. That said, can anyone explain why the Cavs seem to really force it with him?

14. Well, that’s good enough. The Cavs lost on the road to a deeper, more-experienced opponent with some real stars in Jayson Tatum (41 points, 11 rebounds) and Jaylen Brown (16 points). Reputed Cavs killer Al Horford (23 points, 11 boards) also worked some of his usual magic.

15. Bottom line: No major complaints, as the Cavs are still on track for good things. Would have been a nice one to steal, but let’s be honest, that was never supposed to happen.

16. Finally, yes, my visit with Mark Price is directly below. Honored that he bothered to ask.

Looking for the latest NBA Insider News & Rumors?

Be sure to follow Hoops Wire on TWITTER and FACEBOOK for breaking NBA News and Rumors for all 30 teams!

Leave a Reply