Dribbles: Cavs dig deep, beat Heat, and are rising high

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ impressive 111-99 road win over the Miami Heat on Friday.Georges Niang

1. If you want to talk about a hot streak … yes, the local team is on one. And it’s now official.

2. You beat the defending Eastern Conference champions in their building, and you can call it a statement win.

3. I hate to keep bringing up that home loss to Portland, but just imagine if the Cavs had held on to their 16-point lead in that game. They’d be on a six-game winning streak.

4. But winning five of six is still fairly noteworthy. Or in the case of the Cavs (13-9), nine wins in their last 12.

5. I had a social commitment, so I was only able to watch the second half fully. But I’ll be honest, I looked over at the TV early in the game and noticed that the Cavs were down 21-12. At that point I thought, “Gonna be a long night.”

6. And it was. For Miami.

7. Donovan Mitchell made sure of that, finishing with 27 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. Darius Garland shook off early foul trouble to score 18. When those two guys got it going on the same night, man, the Cavs have a good chance to go places.

8. Mitchell and Garland have indeed seemed more fluid than ever when on the floor together. But that’s just one reason the Cavs have been cruising.

9. Mostly, they are just finding a way, playing with resolve and believing they can beat anyone when things are clicking. They’re doing a lot of the little things.

10. For instance, whoever thought they would out-rebound the Heat by a 51-37 count without Evan Mobley? Mobley missed his first game of the season with knee soreness. (It seems to be going around at this time of year.)

11. Or how about the Cavs following the Heat’s 15-0 run in the first half … with two such runs of their own?

12. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff to reporters in Miami: “We keep talking about the same thing. Every night, we can control whether we’re the best team on the floor. Are we the most competitive? Are we the most selfless? And when the guys do that, the talent rises.”

13. Here’s another stat to consider: The Cavs are 13-3 when holding their opponent to less than 120 points. That also means they’re 0-6 when they don’t. In other words, offense is important, but we see what matters most for this team — and it’s defense and rebounding.

14. Georges Niang added 13 points in reserve, and he too appears to be finding his groove, growing more comfortable with his new team by the game. Another newcomer, Max Strus, added 11 points against his old team. Strus was just 4-of-17 from the field, though, but you have to like how he kept putting them up. They just weren’t dropping.

15. The Heat (12-10) led by as many as 16 before the Cavs came charging back to take a 53-52 lead on a Mitchell basket just before halftime. After that, the Cavs tried to pour it on.

16. Mitchell to reporters: “The third quarter kind of set that tone. We’ve got to keep doing this.” 

17. So the Cavs are gaining steam and just keep right on winning on the road (7-3). All are signs of a team that could be turning the corner — and a team that can set lofty goals, and have those goals become something more than just a pipe dream.

18. Finally, old friend Kevin Love had his best game of the season with 14 points and 12 boards for Miami. Love has had an up-and-down year overall.

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