Dribbles: Cavs Show Promising Things to Come, With the Real Thing Up Next

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 109-104 road loss to the Indiana Pacers in the preseason finale on Friday. …Donovan Mitchell dribbles in front of Buddy Hield

1. It was the final game of the preseason, but Donovan Mitchell gave a glimpse of the wonderful things the Cavs can expect again when the real thing begins.

2. Mitchell kicked it into high gear in the third quarter, making six of his first seven shots and erupting for 14 points in a matter of moments. (Or eight minutes, to be exact.) He finished with 28 points on 11-of-21 shooting, and some of the makes were downright dazzling.

3. But as for reasons to believe, the Cavs showed they were more than just Mitchell. For instance, Evan Mobley started at center and went right at Indiana’s Myles Turner on the game’s first two possessions. Bucket, both times.

4. Mobley has looked more comfortable, more fluid and more confident all training camp. He showed that again on Friday, and he can partially thank the likes of newcomer Max Strus. It’s the Cavs’ new threat of perimeter shooting that is going to help create space near the hoop. Mobley finished with 18 points on 8-of-14 from the floor with eight rebounds.

5. Caris LeVert (12 points) also got off to a strong start, filing in for Darius Garland, who got the night off. As Austin Carr said on the Bally Sports broadcast, LeVert came into camp completely healthy and it’s showing. He seems to have a little extra zip and more bounce in his step.

6. You also can’t help but like what you saw from Georges Niang all preseason. If he is facing the basket, it’s probably going up. It also seems as if it’s usually going in, as Niang went for 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting on 3-pointers. (He was 4-of-8 overall.)

7. The Pacers play with a bit of an edge, just as they did last season. But this year, the Cavs look like they will be every bit as physical as opponents, and even play with a little swagger. Having Niang and Tristan Thompson hanging around sure doesn’t hurt in that department.

8. So an early look at the roster shows that president of basketball operations Koby Altman did a good job of identifying the Cavs’ needs — outside shooting and toughness — and going out and filling them.

9. Like most NBA teams, the Cavs will spend the weekend making cuts, perhaps as soon as Saturday (and maybe by the time you read this). Pete Nance, Justin Powell, Sharife Cooper and Zhaire Smith are likely the most four in danger. But all have promise and should end up with the G League’s Cleveland Charge.

10. New Pacers forward Obi Toppin had some highlight-reel dunks on his way to 17 points. This could be a good fit for the Dayton product, who sort of struggled to find his role with the Knicks. Buddy Hield, the subject of offseason trade rumors, led Indiana with 20 points.

11. I really wanted to go to Indianapolis for the game, but given that the travel budget comes out of the Hoops Wire budget … meaning my own pocket … well, I figured we would wait until it counts. That portion of the schedule begins Wednesday at Brooklyn. Cool, no?

12. I asked Mobley at practice how ready he is for the regular season, like, emotionally. In other words, are the guys sick of nothing beyond camp and playing games that don’t matter? You’d better believe it.

13. Mobley answered the question this way: “Yeah, for sure. Definitely excited, I’m ready to go.”

14. I’d say we all are. And now we are but a few days away. As always, thanks so much for following along and allowing me to continue to do this as my job. And without question, feel free to let me know in the comments section or just send an email (samamico@gmail.com). Until next time …

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