Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 99-96 preseason road win over the Hawks on Wednesday …
1. This one definitely went better than the last. And by “better,” I’m mostly talking about the defense.
2. It really is just the preseason, and the Hawks really were missing some of their top guns, including Trae Young. But this is the time of year when you’re merely looking for hope and promise. On Wednesday, the Cavs showed some.
3. You really have to like what you’ve seen from Evan Mobley so far. He has size, smoothness, athleticism and skills. He is also constantly crashing the glass. Mobley finished this one with eight points and an impressive 12 rebounds.
4. We also saw the veteran leadership that Ricky Rubio can offer at the point. He’s a little slower than he used to be (who isn’t?), but he still has an uncanny knack to find the open man and deliver a strong pass for easy buckets.
5. Darius Garland (15 points, seven assists) also had a nice night, and Collin Sexton (19 points) was much better. Jarrett Allen added 12 points and did it on just four field-goal attempts. Along with all that, Isaac Okoro scored 12 and Lauri Markkanen gave a decent showing with 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
6. Granted, Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff played many of his regulars either more than 30 minutes or close to it … in a preseason game. But that’s not so terrible, I suppose. This team needs all the time together it can handle.
8. The Cavs are still committing way too many turnovers. They finished with 20 in the loss to the Bulls and had 21 vs. the Hawks. That’s gonna get you buried by even most bad opponents when things matter. Sexton again was the biggest culprit with a whopping seven.
9. But like everyone says, it’s just the preseason. You can’t make a big deal out of this win if you’re not gonna make a big deal out of the Cavs getting hammered on Monday.
10. Translation: This is not the time of year for big deals. These games are mere scrimmages. You just want to get in a little work while staying injury-free. But if you like the NBA, they’re still fun to watch.
11. Couple of other thoughts: I would rather see Dylan Windler on the court than Cedi Osman. Unless, that is, you’re showcasing Osman for a trade. Also, Mobley needs to get in the weight room and start downing some protein shakes.
12. Garland and Sexton both had some nice drives-and-dishes, which needs to be a more regular occurrence this season.
13. My main concern with this team remains defense. The Cavs just don’t have the offensive firepower to outscore opponents. If that doesn’t get shored up, they may not match last year’s win total (22).
14. But I’m willing to wait until after that grueling West Coast trip at the end of the month to be overly judgmental.
15. The Cavs will play host for the first time this preseason on Friday, when they square off with the Pacers. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.