Dribbles: Everything Open To Question As Cavs Meltdown Carries Over

Random dribbles after the Cavaliers’ brutal 112-89 Game 4 road loss to the Orlando Magic in their first-round NBA playoff matchup. …Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers, Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic, NBA

1. It appears the Cavs are collapsing in the playoffs yet again, and this time, the third-quarter meltdown took a total team effort.

2. Darius Garland, Max Strus, Caris LeVert, Georges Niang and Isaac Okoro — where are you? 

3. The Cavs have become a two-man team on the road, with only Donovan Mitchell (18 points) and Jarrett Allen (21 points, nine rebounds) showing up. And all 18 of Mitchell’s points came in the FIRST HALF. Evan Mobley wasn’t terrible, but he’s been no Franz Wagner (34 points, 13 rebounds, 13-of-17 shooting), who is outplaying the Cavs pretty much by himself.

4. The Cavs lost Game 3 by a franchise-record 38 points. They were outscored 37-10 in the third quarter of this one. They scored a measly 29 points in the second half, a season-low. 

5. There’s no excuse for a team that finished 48-34 to be dominated in this fashion against an opponent of mostly playoff rookies. A lot of men who were supposed to deliver have failed miserably in the past two games. That includes coach J.B. Bickerstaff.

6. When so many guys can’t get it going, why not try someone else?

7. So now we’re tied at 2-all with Game 5 Tuesday in Cleveland. But already, this series is much closer than anyone predicted. The Magic are younger and considerably less experienced. But they’re playing with remarkably more fire, poise and belief.

8. The Cavs have no rhythm offensively. So far, it’s been give the ball to Mitchell and pray he can do it alone. Was that the idea when this team was built? At times, the Cavs have hardly looked like an NBA team at all.

9. Did you know they led by a 60-51 count at halftime? Then the Magic just made every possible adjustment and the Cavs suddenly looked dazed and confused.

10. I watched the game thinking, “What on earth is going on?” I wondered if the Cavs would ever stop the bleeding. A superior team on paper has been utterly overmatched away from home. These are the Orlando Magic. Do you really want to see these Cavs in the second round, against either the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat?

11. Not if they continue to play like this, you don’t. Right now, it’s painful enough watching them against Orlando.

12. I’m not suggesting Tristan Thompson or Marcus Morris or Sam Merrill would save the day — but would it kill the Cavs to see if they can offer a lift when the wheels start coming off? Sure couldn’t be any worse.

13. The Cavs should’ve made quick work of this series. There’s still time. But if this goes seven, or if the Cavs should lose … man, I’m gonna have a busy summer writing about all the changes.

14. I don’t mean to sound harsh or like the voice of doom. But what have you seen from the Cavs in the last two that makes you believe in good things?

15. As it stands, they lack unity in every sense — not to mention production from a lot of guys who were touted as postseason saviors. Instead, everything that usually works for them has vanished for long stretches.

16. This is the same squad that won 17 of 18 to kick off the NBA New Year. Now, suddenly, everything is open to question.

17. There’s really not much else to say. Game 5 has to be a series-changer. But we have no clue how it will go, and frankly, that’s kind of sad. This team should be better than that.

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  1. It all Starts the coach. He failed to get the proper guys playing together. Injuries forced it early and look how good they were. Mobley and Garland come back and are being forced into starting roles. Mobley’s offense is horrrible. Garland’s is disjointed. They need to come of the bench. They run no offensive plays as far as I can tell. Just horrible. Start Jarret, Donovan, Strus Okoro and Lavert; Dean Wade if he wasn’t hurt which always seems to be the case. Merril should get some minutes. Mobley, Garland, Niang, tristian and merrill. The offense is just so ugly. It ruins their defense.

  2. I’ve been critical of the Cavs for not being tough but when I watch the other series, the fouls that are being allowed by the Magic is much rougher than any of the other series. There is this ‘back in the day’ overly physical neutered skills slugfest fetish that is termed ‘playoff basketball’. I’m not a fan. A foul is a foul. Shouldn’t matter reg season or playoffs.

  3. I think JB is going to go down with what he believes are his best five starting players. These last two games have been unwatchable. They look like an AAU team playing against men.

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