Dribbles: Cavs Get Best of Steph Curry, Warriors, and That Still Means Plenty

CLEVELAND — Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 115-104 home win over the dreaded Warriors on Sunday.Darius Garland drives against Gary Payton II

1. It wasn’t the good ol’ days of four straight trips to the Finals, but the Warriors are still contenders and the Cavs are still going to enjoy thoroughly beating them.

2. This is also an opponent that still features Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and coach Steve Kerr — and an opponent that had yet to lose on the road (4-0 coming in). The Cavs had yet to win at home. 

3. It was hardly a masterpiece, as Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff admitted beforehand that the finally healthy starting five is “still a work in progress.” That makes sense, given that Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen and Max Strus played just their second game together as a unit. 

4. So at times, it could be downright sloppy. But the Cavs also showed enough grit and heart to turn this into garbage time with about three minutes left.

5. As Bickerstaff said, “The Warriors are a really good basketball team, but I think we’re a really good team also. We just have to be whole.”

6. Mitchell led the way with another great individual performance, finishing with 31 points and seven assists. Garland was ultra-aggressive in trying to create and get in the paint, and offered his best showing of the year — with 24 points and 12-of-13 shooting on free throws. He also passed for seven assists.

7. Mitchell on the win: “We did a lot of positive things tonight. Now we just gotta continue to build on it.”

8. Mobley had a fairly quiet 13 points, but 16 big rebounds.  Mobley and Allen (12 points, nine boards) did another admirable job of protecting the basket, too. “Both of those guys did a phenomenal job of making the extra effort,” Bickerstaff said. “Our defense starts with our bigs and ends with our bigs.”

9. Strus added 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Bickerstaff also offered praise to the likes of Caris LeVert, Georges Niang, Tristan Thompson and Dean Wade. Each had his moments in reserve.

10. And really, if you’re going to beat the Warriors, it’s going to take a total team effort. That’s precisely what the Cavs got on this night.

11. Mitchell added: “We played a really good game but we can be better.”

12. Curry scored 28 to lead the Warriors, going 7-of-11 on 3-pointers. The guy is 35 years old and nothing has changed. This time, though, the Cavs outplayed the Warriors in nearly every other area that mattered. That was especially true near the basket, as Cleveland (3-4) finished with a 54-44 advantage on the boards.

14. In fact, the Cavs pounded the Warriors to the tune of 58-24 in points in the paint. It snapped a five-game win streak for Golden State (5-2).

15. That said, both Bickerstaff and Mitchell touched on the Cavs’ drastic need to cut down on turnovers. Garland committed six, Mobley five and Mitchell four. “So that’s something we need to clean up,” Mitchell said.

16. Green had 18 points with eight assists for the Warriors. Thompson scored 15, though he went just 3-of-9 on threes. So the Warriors’ Big Three is still around, aiming for another run. I doubt they can make one. Thompson just isn’t the same. But don’t quote me on any of it.

17. The Cavs now get their first extended trip of the season, with their next game taking place Wednesday at Oklahoma City. After that, it’s a visit to (you guessed it) these very Warriors on Saturday. Those two are followed by road games against the Kings and Trail Blazers, respectively.

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