Dribbles: Cavs Return Home in Decent Place, But About Those Injuries

Random dribbles prior to the Cavaliers’ home game vs. the lowly Pistons on Friday.Donovan Mitchell shoots over Steph Curry

1. It’s another episode of the In-Season Tournament, only this time, the Cavs are at home. They lost their first Group Play game on the road against the Pacers on that slippery blue court.

2. A lot of people have asked me to explain the tournament. But honestly, your guess is as good as mine.

3. That’s not to say I’m against the idea. I just don’t really understand it. I know the Cavs need to beat the Pistons to have a real shot to advance to the “knockout round.” If the Cavs don’t make the tournament portion, they will have to schedule a couple of regular-season games on the fly, just to make sure they get to 82.

4. I’ve probably said too much already.

5. What most fans care about is that the Cavs (5-6) need a home win against an opponent that already has no chance to make the playoffs or play-in tournament. If you think things aren’t always great with the Cavs … well, hey, at least you don’t root for the Pistons.

6. As of this writing, I have no idea who’s playing for the Cavs. We will likely know at tipoff. Both Donovan Mitchell (hamstring) and Darius Garland (neck) are listed as questionable. Isaac Okoro (knee) and Ty Jerome (ankle) are out.

7. The first I heard of a Mitchell hamstring issue was the NBA injury report, updated at 11:30 a.m. on Friday. Garland missed the last game with the neck strain. I have no idea what’s going on with Jerome’s ankle or Okoro’s knee. A bad ankle sprain can keep a player out for 4-6 weeks, and that’s likely where we are at with Jerome.

8. Okoro’s injury is listed as “knee soreness.” It’s not supposed to be anything too serious. But he missed the entire West Coast trip and is out again.

9. If the Cavs can’t stay healthy, they will be a non-factor in the East this season. Like any team, they need to have some continuity. The Pacers, Hawks and Knicks are all expecting to finish in the top four. I think the Cavs are better than those teams — when their main players are on the floor.

10. But as we know with injuries, there’s nothing you can do about it. You just cross your fingers and hope for the best. And it’s better to have them now than, say, March, April or May.

11. Of course, as I write this, I am also not attending the game with a non-COVID illness, as the NBA likes to call it on the injury report. I could go, but I don’t want to make anyone else sick. A bad cold is still lingering. On the bright side, I have learned how to write from my couch.

12. Can’t be any worse than when I’m at the game, right?

13. The Cavs need to be careful. Teams can come out flat in these first home games back after a four-game trip. They also have the world-champion Nuggets coming to town on Sunday — so it would be easy to look past a JV squad such as the Pistons.

14. Overall, I think we need to forget the Cavs’ record and focus on the fact they went 2-2 on the trip, swept the Warriors and beat the Knicks in New York in their last meeting. They just need to string together a winning streak, or win eight of 10 or something, just to stay in the race. I have a feeling they will do exactly that at some point.

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