Dribbles: Cavs Looking Exhausted, Overmatched With Time Running Out

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 131-107 blowout road loss to the Hawks on Thursday.

1. We won’t spend a lot of time here, because this is one the Cavs and everyone who cares about them would just as soon forget.Darius Garland

2. Bottom line: The Cavs could use a break. Both from the basketball gods and from actually having to play basketball. They just look spent.

3. The Cavs have a Big Three of Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley. That’s an awful young Big Three, but hey, two were All-Stars and the other is frontrunner for Rookie of the Year. That constitutes a Big Three of sorts.’

4. Two of those guys — Allen and Mobley — are injured and missing. That leaves Garland. Two are 7-footers. Garland is 6-1 on a good day. Everyone else is pretty much a role player. Many are nice role players, so that’s not an insult.

5. Role players aren’t going to carry the day.

6. At least, they won’t on any sort of regular basis. Almost never on the road and almost never when everyone you play is fighting for playoff positioning.

7. With five games to go, that’s what the Cavs (42-35) are facing. It’s an unfortunate twist, because about two weeks ago we were wondering if they could swipe the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference from the Bulls.

8. But if Allen and/or Mobley don’t get back soon, they might have to head to Brooklyn to play the Nets in the first play-in game. Or maybe even head to Atlanta.

9. Then again, the Cavs don’t need to worry about any of that stuff right now. All they can do is put this one behind them, head to New York, take a much-needed day off, then get ready to face the Knicks on Saturday.

10. Seriously. That’s it. Leave the overanalyzing to the rest of us. Then go out and try again.

11. The absences of Allen and Mobley don’t just hurt on defense — though that is the area where it’s most evident. But it’s also made the Cavs a less efficient offensive team. Opposing teams can just defend them differently, because Allen brings his own unique athletic style near the rim.

12. And it might sound strange to say about a power forward, but the Cavs clearly miss Mobley’s passing. He doesn’t rack up huge assists numbers, but he generally makes the right play and sets up teammates. His passes often lead to the pass that leads to the assist.

13. There’s no sense in reciting a bunch of individual stats, because they’re all fairly meaningless in games like this. But I’ll do it real quick, anyway. Garland finished with 18 points and eight assists. Moses Brown went for 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting. In the past two games combined, Brown is 10-of-12 from the field.

14. Oh, and Cedi Osman finally got off the bench to score a team-high 21 points. They were pretty empty, though. That’s nothing against Osman. It’s just that, again, stats in this game were really just numbers in the box score.

15. So the Cavs have to find something, anything to help get back in the win column. It’s not likely to get them back into a top-six seed, and therefore, out of the play-in tournament. But it can help them to start feeling good again.

16. The play-in tournament isn’t such a horrible thing. What’s happening now can’t totally be blamed on the Cavs. I’m hesitant to even partially blame them. This is just a case of the basketball gods intervening, a case of dumb luck. 

17. As I’ve said repeatedly, though, it’s never been about this season. It should only be considered a big step forward. And if the Cavs can get Allen and Mobley back within the next week, maybe they can take some even bigger steps. As we’ve seen, that will be about the only way to do it.

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  1. Yes, injuries have played a monumental role in this SLIDE to the bottom of the locked in playoff picture, but what WAS a very good early season team example of effort was good 3pt shooting. Everyone was getting a “make” or two, happily spreading it around. TEAM, as in all. A BIG LACK OF 3PT MAKES along with missed free throws, recent slacking chaotic defense, blown attempts to get bogus “Hardenisque” fouls called by Darius driving into 3 defenders with a NO-Call officiating! If you have 3 people defending you, someone else was open & you are always not likely to actually MAKE the prayer shot ! I had to quit watching early 3rd quarter. Finished, couldn’t watch. Officiating was again awful & for every 3pt made, Cavs only attempting 2pt baskets because all 3’s were way off. Simple math dictates !
    Overmatched & Exhausting does seem to cover this one for sure & time has been running out for about a month now. Must reacquire Ricky Rubio in the offseason, if he’s still able. At least he instilled a good level of calm, yet quick & actionable reassurance for those 3pt makes & comebacks that had excited the whole Cav’s Kingdom again. Thank you for your dribbles! We all tried, but unless they end up playing Charlotte, well, It’s one game & over.

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