Random dribbles on the Cavaliers, who have 11 games left. …
1. When it comes to regular-season games, it doesn’t get much bigger than this. Cavs vs. 76ers. Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. ESPN, 7:30 p.m.
2. Donovan Mitchell keeps saying it, and for this group of Cavs, it really is true: “This is the playoffs.”
3. Mitchell wasn’t referring to this game specifically, but you get the point. He’s been saying it since the All-Star Break, and these games do indeed matter. Mostly, to get the Cavs in a playoff mindset.
4. That said, I predict the Cavs (44-27) are locked into the fourth seed. They’re not catching the Sixers and the Nets or Knicks aren’t catching the Cavs.
5. The Sixers (45-22) are a potential second-round opponent, though I suspect they will finish third in the East, with the Bucks and Celtics finishing first and second. I’m not sure who will be first, but it will be Milwaukee or Boston.
6. OK, I’m getting way ahead of myself here, I know that. But isn’t it great? For the first time in forever without LeBron James on the team, the Cavs are talking postseason.
7. When was the last time the Cavs won a playoff series without James? How about 30 years ago. That was 1993, and that featured the likes of Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, Larry Nance, Hot Rod Williams and Craig Ehlo, and was coached by Lenny Wilkens. They were swept by Michael Jordan and the Bulls in the second round.
8. So today’s Cavs could go down in franchise lore with a first-round win. If they stay healthy, I predict it will happen.
9. But first, the job at hand. Mitchell (finger/rest) and Jarrett Allen (eye) need to get back on the court first. Mitchell could vs. Philly. We will update that throughout the day. Allen is day-to-day and should be getting close.
10. Today’s Cavs are very similar to the 1993 team. Both have/had a really nice starting lineup. Neither has/had much when it comes to consistent play off the bench. I think president of basketball operations Koby Altman knows that and needs another transactional phase, this summer, to get that fixed.
11. Cedi Osman (24 points) came to life in Tuesday’s road win over the Hornets. But that only seems to happen about once a month. Other times, he’s just sort of out there. In the playoffs, the Cavs will need a role player/reserve to get on a roll. Again, now is the time for someone who fits that description to start making that happen.
- Coach J.B. Bickerstaff called Osman “a wild card,” via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “We know what Cedi is capable of. He is a guy that can ignite both sides of the floor,” Bickerstaff said. “He can make shots in a hurry, but also does a great job defensively of getting deflections, chasing guys, getting through screens. All that stuff brings energy and we’re going to need that.”
13. If not Osman, then Caris LeVert. Someone needs to help out the core four of Mitchell, Allen, Darius Garland and Evan Mobley. And they need to do it regularly.
14. But that’s about a month away. For now, the Cavs just need to continue this playoff mindset against teams like the 76ers, who are experienced at this sort of thing. This should be a good test for the reality that awaits.
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