Cavs Notes: Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Donovan Mitchell

Random dribbles ahead of the Cavaliers’ road game against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA

1. The Max Strus mania will soon end. That’s just the way it goes in the NBA — as there is always another game.

2. And you can be sure the Bulls are glad about that. After all, they lost to the lowly Detroit Pistons at home on Tuesday.

3. That makes the Bulls the lone team to have lost to the Pistons TWICE this season. That’s quite an honor: Being beaten twice in a year to a team that lost an NBA-record 28 straight. 

4. Anyway, on to the Cavs (38-19) who are clinging to first place in the Central Division and second place in the Eastern Conference. People have been hard on them because they haven’t looked like the same team that won 17 of 18 shortly before the All-Star break.

5. But they’ve won two in a row and they are doing enough to stay in the top three in the East. They might not finish second. Milwaukee could pass them. But I strongly believe the Cavs will finish no worse than third.

6. Of course, the difference between second and third is substantial. The No. 2 seed will face a team that emerges from the play-in tournament in the first round — such as Indiana, Orlando, Chicago or Atlanta.

7. Whoever finishes third could face the defending East champion Miami Heat in the first round. 

8. If I’m the Cavs, I want to avoid the latter. Give me the younger or struggling opponent.

9. Yeah, I know. I write and say that a lot. But hey, it’s nice to be focused on the playoffs and the potential first-round opponent. Trust me, I’ve covered plenty of Cavs teams that were focused on the draft lottery by late February.

10. I’d say the biggest concerns right now are barely concerns. Darius Garland hasn’t been playing at an All-Star level. Neither has Evan Mobley. Expectations for those two are sky-high. Fans expect both to be better. 

11. The Cavs will say publicly they’re pleased with both. I suspect that’s truer of Mobley than Garland. Either way, I don’t think there’s any reason to be upset at this point. We can wait for the playoffs to scrutinize and over-analyze. Mobley, for one, has been fantastic defensively. He still looks unsure of himself too often on offense.

12. Anyway, enough of that. One guy who continues to be remarkable is Donovan Mitchell — who is shooting 45 percent on 3-pointers over his last 11 games. The Cavs have won 10 of those. For the season, he’s averaging 28.2 points and career-highs with 5.4 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.85 steals. 

13. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said he doesn’t know if the “Mitchell Knicks thing is really still a possibility,” as our Ashish Mathur relayed here. I’ll take it a step further. I don’t think it is at all at the moment. I am starting to really believe that Mitchell will sign an extension with the Cavs this summer.

14. We have plenty more in the latest Cavs on the Break podcast, recorded immediately after Strus’ miracle game-winner. You can check it out here

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