Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 105-90 road win over the Mavericks on Wednesday. …
1. Much had been made of the way the Cavs lost to the Spurs the other night. A lot of people seemed to wonder if Cleveland would ever get its act together on the road.
2. Well, for one night, the mission was completely accomplished. The Cavs never trailed and were never really threatened against a quality opponent with a bona fide NBA MVP candidate in Luka Doncic.
3. Remember the Cavs’ slow start against the Spurs? They did the opposite this time. Started fast and finished plenty well enough. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff emphasized all that to the players after Monday’s loss — and not always politely. Sometimes, far from politely.
4. Before Wednesday’s game, Bickerstaff told reporters that being a starter in the NBA is an “honor.” He added that the first five on the floor are not out there “just to fill minutes.” It is the starters’ responsibility to “set the tone early,” he said.
5. The Cavs’ starters failed in that department on Monday. But man, they were wildly successful vs. the Mavs.
6. Just ask Donovan Mitchell, who scored 27 points in the first half, before finishing with 34. He was undoubtedly the biggest reason the Cavs shot right out of the gate — so much so that even the mid-game lulls didn’t seem so bad.
7. Mitchell to Bally Sports Cleveland: “Last game we came out flat … so the biggest message tonight was to come out strong. We set the tone right from the jump.”
8. Mitchell, of course, had plenty of help, with much coming from none other than the forever-hustling Lamar Stevens. It Stevens’ job to try to contain Doncic, and he did an admirable job. At least Doncic really had to work for his 30 points this time.
9. Along with that, Dallas seemed to forget about Stevens when the Cavs were on offense. He delivered, finishing with 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting, all while collecting a team-high 11 rebounds.
10. Mitchell on Stevens’ defense of Doncic: “It’s weird to say you limited somebody to 30 points, but (Stevens) is continuing to take steps. He just made Luka wok continuously. I know how that feels as the other guy on this team.”
11. As much scrutinizing as we do, the bottom line is the Cavs (18-11) have still won five of eight. But this was the first on the road in a while. So yes, they had something to prove. And the sign of a good team is, when that’s the case, they go out and prove it.
12. Overall, the Cavs shot a sizzling 53 percent from the field. Mitchell also led the way in that department, finishing 13-of-20 overall and 6-of-9 on 3-pointers.
13. Mitchell admittedly has had his struggles in Dallas, so this must have felt especially good. If you remember, it was Doncic and the Mavs who ended Mitchell’s career with the Jazz in the West playoffs last season.
14. Jarrett Allen added 14 points (6-of-7 shooting) and six boards. Evan Mobley had 14 and seven, respectively, on 5-of-9 shooting. Darius Garland added 12 in a so-so individual performance, but that’s nitpicking when you win. Caris LeVert scored 11 in reserve.
15. Interestingly, Isaac Okoro only played 10 minutes and Cedi Osman didn’t play at all — not even when Bickerstaff cleared the bench at the end.
16. Overall, a good win for the Cavs, with the next two at home: First vs. the Pacers on Friday, followed by these same Mavs (14-14) on Saturday.
17. Allen to Bally Sports with the final word: “We didn’t have our foot on the gas last game, but tonight we came pedal to the metal, ready for everything, and tried to throw the first punch. Tonight was that redemption.”
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