Random dribbles on the Cavaliers’ 144-99 thrashing of the Raptors on Sunday.
1. The Cavs used to be a professional basketball team. Actually, they still are. But now, they’re so much more than that. They’ve become a happening.
2. Despite plenty of bodies in health and safety protocols, they have won seven of 10. Despite the preseason projections, they are 20-13 and in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. And despite all of those things and more, 11 of their past 11 victories have come by double-digits (and 15 by double-digits overall).
3. Since they won this won by 45, shouldn’t that actually count as four wins by double-digits?
4. Obviously, I’m joking. But Kevin Love said it best. The Cavs are young, fun and can play well either in the halfcourt or when they run. Credit coach J.B. Bickerstaff and point guard Darius Garland, the mastermind and main main behind all the success.
5. Love on the state of things: “We’ve got a good thing going and I’m having a lot of fun. It’s going to be great watching this young team develop. We know we’re going to get everyone’s best shot at us going forward, so I hope 2022 is a year of growth.”
6. Well, 2021 sure has been. Garland has become an All-Star type of talent. You could say the same about center Jarrett Allen, when healthy. And the way the Cavs are just beatig down some of their opponents … well, it’s only fitting that rumors started to surface about LeBron James wanting to return.
7. I don’t buy those, by the way. He may be impressed and he may admire how his hometown team has become a joy to watch, but coming back to play in Cleveland again? I don’t see it. And frankly, at the age of 37 (on Dec. 31), I’m not so sure he’d be a fit.
8. What we can focus on is how well this team is doing as its currently constructed. Right now, I would change a thing. I wouldn’t make a move for anyone — not LeBron, not 76ers star Ben Simmons, not Pacers guard Caris LeVert. All of those players have been linked to the Cavs. But at the moment, the Cavs should be saying, “Nah, we’re good thanks.”
9. It’s true that the Raptors (14-16) have been ravished with players in the protocol, but the Cavs also have seven of their own. That list includes Allen and fellow starter Evan Mobley, as well as Isaac Okoro, who missed three straight games. Not to mention Cedi Osman, who was added earlier Sunday.
10. On the bright side, Okoro has exited the protocol and begun to get back to work on his conditioning. His presence may have meant the Cavs would’ve won by 55.
11. I’m joking there too … sort of.
12. Garland scored 22 and passed for eight assists. Love scored 22 and grabbed nine rebounds. Love and Dean Wade (17 points) each went 7-of-12 shooting. Lauri Markkanen also had one of his better nights with 20 points on 9-of-13 from the field.
14. Markkanen after the game: “We’re lucky to be in this position where we’ve got such a good thing going on. We play hard and we play unselfish basketball.”
15. Today, the Cavs sit in fifth place in the East … but are just three games back of the first-place Nets and two behind the second-place Bulls. With the way things are going this year, you can’t count out the Cavs catching either. No, really.