INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Well, there’s no doubt that the Cavaliers finished with a thud, bowing out to the Knicks in a mere five games in their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.
Given that the Cavs have limited resources, most everyone will be back, and all the Cavs can really do is use this season as a lesson and try it again. But the key part of that sentence is lesson, according to star guard Donovan Mitchell.
“Not how I planned for it to end. The way we ended sucks. Ultimately you wish you could be better as a whole, and we weren’t,” Mitchell told reporters. “Sometimes you gotta touch the stove and you gotta get burned.”
And man, did the Cavs get burned. They looked really good in one outing (Game 2), and completely overmatched and outmuscled in the rest.
So the idea now is to learn from it, move on, and come back even more determined next season after finishing 51-31 in this one.
“You can’t let one series define you as a group or as a player or as an individual,” Mitchell said. “I think we have a special group that can do a lot of different things and continue to grow. We failed, but we continue to push and continue to step and continue to build. I’m excited to build with this group.”
- Center Jarrett Allen may have had the worst five-game stretch of his Cavs career, and he was willing to take a big part of the blame for the loss. “We all know the elephant in the room — the Tyrannosaurus rex in the room — is the damn offensive rebounds,” Allen said. “That’s my job to get rebounds. That’s my job to box people out, to make sure they don’t get the rebound, and I feel like I let my team down in that sense.”
- That said, the Cavs aren’t likely to make sweeping changes to the roster, president of basketball operations Koby Altman indicated. There could be smaller changes around the edges, though. We have that full story here.
- Along with that, Altman was adamant in saying that coach J.B. Bickerstaff will return. You can check out that full post here.
- Jason Lloyd of The Athletic suggested that Mitchell has eyes on the Knicks, who nearly traded for him last offseason. “From everyone I’ve talked to, he wants to go to New York (in the long run),” Lloyd said, via the Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show.
- For much more on the Cavs’ playoff showing and future, check out the latest Cavs on the Break podcast, as well as my season-ending Dribbles.
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If the draft fell correctly, I would trade Mitchell and Luke Travers to Portland for 5th pick, Sharpe, and Simons. I would then trade Garland to Orlando for 6th and 11th picks and Jonathan Isaac. I would then trade Allen also probably to Dallas. I do not believe Garland will ever be tough enough for playoffs. One of the 2 big men have to be able to hit a 3 pointer. Amen Thompson, Shaedon Sharpe, Cam Whitmore, Taylor Hendricks, Derek Lively, and Evan Mobley would be the best young core possibly in the history of the league. And would have cap space next year.
Too much of the series, Allen looked lost, in between protecting the rim and boxing out rebounders. All season, Mobley relied on length, with soft hands without hard-body rebound bodying. In the playoffs, Mitchell Robinson and Kevon Looney demonstrated the value of all-out (Moses Malone) relentless rebounding. Cavs missed Kevin Love’s rebounding savvy in the playoffs. Positioning and vision (carom reads) count! Hit the weights and the protein this summer, Allen and Mobley! You need to add 8-10 pounds apiece for each of the next 2 to 3 seasons.