Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ impressive 118-110 road win over the Warriors on Saturday.
1. The Warriors wanted to beat the Cavs so badly that they tried to lengthen the clock at the end to make a comeback. That’s not actually true, but there was a major scoreboard malfunction with about 1:30 to go.
2. It was that kind of night for Golden State. Nothing went right. They can blame the Cavs, because they spent most of the night making the Warriors feel out of sorts and, at times, downright miserable.
3. The Cavs (4-5) heard for two days that they had some major adjustments to make after losing Wednesday at Oklahoma City. The fans and media asked what’s wrong with this team. They’re finally healthy, everyone said. Why aren’t they better?
4. Well, win or lose, the Cavs are pretty good when everything clicks. On this night, it was. At least, enough to beat a Western Conference contender on its own court.
5. So we’re not even 10 games in, and already, the Cavs have two noteworthy wins — one over the Warriors on Sunday at home, the other Saturday against the Warriors on the road.
6. A big reason for both wins was the defense, determination and general balance of the offense. A major reason for Saturday’s win was no less than Caris LeVert, who’s been really good all season.
7. LeVert finished with 22 points, five rebounds and a whopping four steals. But he did so much more than that. It so often was when he scored his points, when he made his steals, and how he seemed to always give the Cavs a boost when they needed it most.
8. For instance, the Warriors went on a major run in the third quarter, overcoming a 16-point halftime deficit to take a one-point lead. But a LeVert putback put the Cavs back on top entering the final 12 minutes. In short, the man came to play — as Cleveland outscored Golden State by 23 points with LeVert on the floor.
9. But there was so much more, as the Cavs had six payers reach double figures in scoring. Donovan Mitchell went for 21, Darius Garland and Evan Mobley each had 19, Max Strus had 16 and Jarrett Allen had 12. That’s about as balanced as it gets.
10. And while Dean Wade fell two short with eight points, he came off the bench to make a difference with a couple of 3-pointers and seven big rebounds.
11. Basically, this is what coach J.B. Bickerstaff means when he talks about “Cavaliers Basketball,” as it involved a teamwide effort in the truest sense.
12. Bickerstaff to reporters on the win: “It’s the foundation of who we are. It’s the competitiveness and it’s the selflessness. We have enough talent that if we build on (those things), we give ourselves a chance to win games.”
13. Along with all that, the Cavs did a much better job in the turnover department. They committed just 10 — and Garland had just two. Meanwhile, the defense forced the normally reliable Warriors into committing 20.
14. More Bickerstaff: “For the majority of the night, we competed our tails off and played the game selflessly. Now you can start to build that trust, and you do it together, and you can start to compound wins.”
15. So yes, beating the Warriors twice in a week tends to make you feel better about yourselves. This is the team the Cavs really are, a team that can go places. They just need to stay healthy and stay consistent.
16. Stephen Curry again led the Warriors (6-4) with 30 points, but the Cavs held him to 9-of-24 shooting and 4-of-14 on threes. Some of those shots were so ugly it wouldn’t have been a surprise if the rim cringed with fear.
17. Klay Thompson added 14 points, but honestly, he doesn’t seem to make much of a difference between winning and losing these days. Two major leg injuries will do that to a guy. Draymond Green scored eight, but his most notable moment came when he got thrown out for arguing with the officials.
18. By the way, Bickerstaff had plenty to say about LeVert and that putback to end the third. “He’s huge for us,” Bickerstaff said of LeVert. “He’s a guy that plays with no fear. … There are just small plays that win you basketball games. Games are won and lost through the entirety of the game. That play was able to (stop the Warriors’) moment a little bit.”
19. So that’s it. Great win. It’s also a game that gives the Cavs something on which to build and another reason for their fans to believe.