Dribbles: Cavs Rise, Shine at Just the Right Time

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ thriller of a 118-114 overtime home win vs. the Celtics. …Donovan Mitchell

1. For a while, it looked like the Cavaliers were toast. Nothing was going right. They were partially to blame for some of that. But they didn’t just accept defeat.

2. Sounds corny. Sounds cliched. But with this team, that’s really what it’s been about for most of the season — fight. Yes, the Cavs will sometimes shoot themselves in the foot. They keep going, anyway.

3. Donovan Mitchell (40 points) is almost always the man who leads them back. On this night, Lamar Stevens (eight points, eight rebounds, tons of hustle) really helped a lot, too.

4. As coach J.B. Bickerstaff told reporters: “There is no way we win that game without Lamar. He changed the tone, the physicality, the effort.”

5. Stevens spent the first three quarters … sitting … watching … and probably just hoping for an opportunity in a close game. Bickerstaff finally called his number. Right away, the third-year forward made an impact.

6. Stevens on his night: “I just felt I could help with a little energy boost. I was just trying to impact the game however I could.”

7. I’ll put this short-and-sweetly: Since about January, the Cavs’ bench has basically stunk. Play Stevens more. Please.

8. Yes, the Celtics were coming off a double-overtime loss to the Knicks on Sunday. Yes, they were probably exhausted. No, they didn’t have All-Star Jayson Tatum or veteran big man Al Horford, who both stayed back in Boston to rest.

9. But that wasn’t the Cavs’ concern. No one feels sorry for them in those situations.

10. Still, they needed a little help. With the game tied (109-all) and just 0.8 seconds on the clock, Celtics forward Grant Williams got fouled. He told Mitchell he intended to make them both. It was a little trash talk. Williams made neither.

11. Boston guard Marcus Smart barely missed a tip-in at the buzzer — and off to overtime we went. It would have been surprising if the Celtics had anything left. And they indeed did not have much.

12. Darius Garland (17 points, 12 assists) knocked down some big free throws at the end. Caris LeVert (seven points) buried a big 3-pointer just before that. And Evan Mobley (25 points, 17 rebounds) got it done early and often. What another promising night from him.

13. The Cavs won the season series vs. the defending Eastern Conference champs by a 3-1 count. All three of Cleveland’s wins came in OT.

14. Mitchell has scored at least 40 points on eight occasions this season. He seems to cherish more as the season goes — because each has come in a bigger moment, it seems. “This is the playoffs,” he told the Cavs Radio Network after the game.

15. It sure felt like it, didn’t it? That’s good. This is giving these Cavs (41-26) the chance to experience what the playoffs may be all about.

16. Jaylen Brown was magnificent as usual for the Celtics (45-21), finishing with 32 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists. But he finished just 1-of-7 on threes, likely the result of tired legs.

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  1. Very well said. 1. nothing going right. 2. But, I would say OFTEN instead of sometimes.
    7. Yes–bench stinketh. But, YES Stevens exploded ! & I gotta think if that type of activity could be contagious to the REST of the bench, well, there’s a great deal that this team could do in the remaining games AND playoffs. It’s great to have some outcomes like this to base your terrific “Dribbles” on. Very nice.

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