Dribbles: Cavs’ Collapse vs. Clippers Epitome Of Teamwide Meltdown

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ gut-wrenching 120-118 road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in NBA action on Sunday …Caris LeVert, NBA, Cleveland Cavaliers

1. That one hurts. They all do, but that may have been the most painful of them all.

2. The Cavs led by an 80-59 count at halftime. Yes, 80 points in the first half — a season-high for Cleveland. The Cavs’ lead was as big as 26.

3. Next thing you know, Paul George is making a 13-footer to give the Clippers a two-point lead with 7 seconds to go. On the next possession, George blocked a Darius Garland layup with 1.1 seconds left.

4. Somehow, the Clippers won.

5. Yeah, what the heck? The Cavs (46-33) were outscored by 23 in the second half. This after playing a masterful two-plus quarters. 

6. But guess what? This is the NBA and you gotta play all four.

7. It’s too late in the season to learn these lessons. It’s too late in the season for teamwide meltdowns, Donovan Mitchell or not. On this day, Mitchell was a late scratch. But still. Come on, man.

8. So the Cavs completed their final West swing of the season at 1-4. They now finish the regular season with three very winnable games at home. But with the way things are going anymore, you have to wonder if “winnable” is actually a thing.

9. Let’s keep in mind that the Cavs aren’t alone. Milwaukee has been bad. New York hasn’t been any better. Only Orlando has been just OK. These are the teams in the Nos. 2-5 slots in the Eastern Conference. As ESPN analyst Tim Legler said, “This is no time to be leaking oil.” Yet all of those teams are and the Cavs are among them.

10. Frankly, I don’t pretend to know what’s going on with Cleveland. I can’t figure it out. I just know it’s not been ideal with playoff positioning at its most critical juncture and the actual postseason less than two weeks away.

11. I also know the Cavs could have really gained some ground in the East standings had they won two games on this trip. They had two won, too. Then they threw it away.

12. Yes, George (39 points, 11 rebounds) was fantastic, seemingly delivering on every big play. But the Cavs shouldn’t have let it come to that.

13. Garland had one of his better games, finishing with 28 points and eight assists. He went 4-of-8 shooting on 3-pointers. Evan Mobley scored 20, Max Strus scored 20, Caris LeVert scored 18, and Jarrett Allen finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Isaac Okoro returned from a toe injury and went 4-of-4 shooting for 11 points. The offensive numbers were there.

14. So that should tell you where the major breakdowns occurred. (Hint: Not offense.)

15. At this writing, the Cavs sit in FIFTH in the Eastern Conference, a half-game behind Orlando and New York. The Knicks played Sunday night. Regardless, Cleveland really needs to win these final three games at home.

16. I’ve read your Twitter and Facebook notifications. I know you’re angry. I see your opinions on the future of coach J.B. Bickerstaff. Let’s just they’re not favorable

17. That said, I’m not ready to burn down the hoops house. Being back home against teams below you in the NBA standings has a way of fixing things. And man, the Cavs need serious repair. 

18. Three games. One season in the books. Then the real thing begins. If the Cavs keep going down this road, it will be over before you know it.

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  1. Someone should do a study on all of Garlands game ending shots in the last 2 years. I think at least 3 blocked this year on game ending plays. He plays hero ball. His is JBs favorite so he will keep giving him the ball.

  2. I did a study, I watched all the Cavs’ games.
    the Cavs problems are ALL about Garland not knowing how to play basketball with 4 other players. What I’m not sure about is why he’s allowed to get away with his one on one style, why does he continually get minutes, who’s pressing the buttons on that one? $$$

  3. Yep, FINALLY, People are beginning to recognize what’s been said here before…
    I said near the all star break when they were just thinking of getting DG back in there, better get ready to see the slide,,,, just like last year.
    #1. When Garland got injured in Toronto first game of the season,,,, Mitchell showed what this team can do without DG. won 9 out of ten games! Dg comes back & losing begins to show up MORE often.
    #2. Same way this year, DG, along with Mobley out with injury, this team picks up the pace again ! ! At the Allstar break, guess who not only comes back but breaks the back of the momentum again ! ! ??? And it’s NOT Mobley. It’s DG & COACHING.
    DG -yes he has talent, but rhythm, pace, & team cohesion are missing usually this is called chaos,…. It’s always, I’ll get my numbers & he does-many times-just enough to look good on the stats–but the TEAM SUFFERS, & the FANS do too.
    He almost always walks the ball upcourt always giving the defense time to set up again & again, sort of like he has a “play” in mind, then runs his same old penetration attempts that only sometimes work because most of the defenses have studied him. He is NOT Kyrie though he tries to emulate him. It seems the Bickerstaff is oblivious, But they DO have video, right? & MANY staff coaches,,, but still… same old DG.
    Sorry, but I too, have not enjoyed the slide !

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