Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 113-98 road loss to the Bucks on Wednesday. …
1. You know what the Cavaliers could use right about now? A home game against a struggling team. Like, say, the Hornets.
2. Well, guess who they play on Friday at home?
3. This isn’t to excuse the Cavs’ five-game skid as totally meaningless. They were indeed singing the third-quarter blues in Milwaukee. They do have some things to clean up.
4. But man, the early schedule sure hasn’t done them any favors. A brutal trip out West was followed by ONE home game on ONE day’s rest. Then they got to go on the road again to face a veteran team with championship aspirations.
5. Yeah, thanks a lot, whoever it is that puts the NBA schedule together. You’re a real pal.
6. As far as this particular game goes, the Cavs (8-6) defended pretty well for most of the first half. This despite being without All-Star center Jarrett Allen, who just happens to be their best defender.
7. But things fell apart after halftime. The Bucks (11-3) continued to not miss. That was especially the case for Brook Lopez, who went 10-of-13 shooting, including a sizzling 7-of-9 on 3-pointers. He finished with a game-high 29 points.
8. Guess what position Lopez plays? Yeah, center. Same as Allen. And guess who hurt the Cavs the most?
9. You already have to contend with Giannis Antetokounmpo (16 points). And now Lopez and Jordan Nwora (21) are making shots too? Man, c’mon.
10. Again, this isn’t to excuse some of the Cavs’ issues. They have been playing poorly at both ends — sometimes at the same time — for long stretches of the game. Those bad stretches have gotten longer lately, too.
11. They have been inconsistent offensively, or at least, not consistent enough. You can almost always rely on Donovan Mitchell (23 points) and Darius Garland (ditto), and probably Evan Mobley (20 points, seven rebounds). But then … who?
12. The fourth “weapon” was supposed to be Caris LeVert, but you could make the case that he’s had just one good game — that being his 41-point eruption vs. the Celtics. He followed that with one measly point in the next game. On Wednesday, he scored two on 1-of-5 from the field.
13. We all said LeVert deserved more time after coming over in a midseason trade, and then suffering an ankle injury. Maybe he still deserves more time. But not much more. He needs to adjust and contribute, and while it’s not all about scoring, the Cavs sure could’ve used more on this night.
14. Lamar Stevens hustled his way to 10 points and five boards, and Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff may want to keep giving Stevens and his hustle a longer look. But everyone else was just … meh.
15. That can’t continue. The Cavs say they know that. With the schedule about to soften a bit, with four straight home games, they will have every chance to get back on track. You really can use the schedule as an excuse right now. But it will be a problem if we’re still having this conversation in a week.
Jon Iaconis contributed to this post.
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