Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 118-93 blowout win over the Raptors. …
1. Let’s face it, the Cavs really needed a night like this. Both just to get a win, as well as a win against Toronto.
2. Cleveland had been 0-2 since the All-Star Break, losers of three straight overall. One of those was the beatdown of a loss to the Hawks. They were also 0-3 against the Raptors on the season.
3. So yeah, this one had to feel good. It erased any doubts that the Cavs can be the team they say they are. As I wrote over the weekend, the schedule didn’t do them any favors. But there would be no excuse to lose here.
4. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff to reporters on the win: “The approach was outstanding. Knowing your opponent, understanding how physical the game was going to be and exceeding that, doing it together, all things that our guys have done the majority of the year on full display tonight.”
5. Each time the Cavs lost to the Raptors, the Raptors were the more physical team. It seemed to disrupt the offense, as the Cavs struggled with Toronto’s helter-skelter and muck-up-the-game approach. Not this time.
6. More Bickerstaff: “We didn’t allow their physicality to rattle us. We turned that into a strength and started playing downhill and playing at speed. We had conversations like we always do about the importance of what’s in front of us. This was a big game for us just to get ourselves back on track and get our feet under us.”
7. Bickerstaff challenged guard Donovan Mitchell in a heart-to-heart before the game, as relayed by Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Mitchell is a four-time All-Star. He got the message and ran with it, erupting for 35 points.
8. Mitchell probably would have known that the Cavs needed to get back on track, but it never hurts when the coach offers a personal reminder.
9. Mitchell on the win: “We needed this one. We haven’t been playing our best basketball the past two games and it’s important for us to understand that during this stretch, we’ve got to continue to lock in and continue to build for the playoffs.”
10. Jarrett Allen recorded 23 points and 11 rebounds. He leads the team with 28 double-doubles. Darius Garland and Evan Mobley scored 18 apiece, with Mobley offering some staunch defense to boot. Oh, and Garland passed for 11 assists — with ZERO turnovers.
11. The Cavs were a sizzling 52 percent from the field, including 50 percent on 3-pointers. “The way we played as a collective effort, I feel like everybody brought something special to the table that helped us,” Allen said.
12. Next up: Two games against the East-leading Celtics. At this time of year, yes, it’s a measuring stick. The Celtics are 0-2 against the Cavs this year, so will be out for a little revenge of their own.
13. In other news, the Cavs still have that open roster spot available after the Kevin Love buyout. Want to play the name game of candidates? Check out our list of available free agents.
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