Dribbles: Cavs show unity yet again, battle past Bulls for fifth straight win

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 109-91 home win over the Chicago Bulls on Monday.Caris Levert

1. For most of the night, the Cavs dominated. Then came the third quarter, when things quickly fell apart. By the start of the fourth, the Bulls had cut a 21-point advantage to one.

2. But it didn’t take long after that for the Cavs to pull it back together. And don’t look now, but they’ve won five in a row. How’s that for a stretch without your second- and third-leading scorers (Darius Garland and Evan Mobley)?

3. Donovan Mitchell to reporters: “They’re a good team, a competitive team, so we knew they were going make a run. And we missed wide-open shots. But the biggest thing is how we responded, and we did it as a group.”

4. Mitchell (34 points, seven assists) has been the obvious star but he makes a valid point. The Cavs truly have been unified in winning seven of their previous nine. They’re just finding a way — any way — to stay afloat in the East.

5. Caris LeVert added 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists off the bench. Jarrett Allen recorded 10 points and 14 big rebounds — for his ninth straight double-double. Sam Merrill added 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Dean Wade hit four 3-pointers for 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

6. That’s the balance and unity of which Mitchell spoke.

7. The Cavs are also getting it done at the defensive end. To win five in a row, you can’t just try to outscore people, especially without Garland/Mobley.

8. LeVert on that very topic: “Right now we’re getting the timely stops we need, and the really good teams do that. We have versatile defenders and we have bigs that can switch. We’re just locking in more defensively and we’re getting better at our scheme.”

9. Offensively, the Cavs (23-15) attempted a franchise-record 57 threes, making 20. Sometimes, I think they settle too much. But you can’t argue with the results lately. So I’m not about to.

10. By the way, the Cavs are 10-3 since it was revealed that Garland and Mobley would miss significant time. President of basketball operations Koby Altman did a nice job of building a deeper team with guys who know their roles and remain entirely drama-free.

11. This actually snapped a two-game road winning streak for the Bulls (19-23), who look like they’re play-in tournament-bound yet again. Guard Zach LaVine, the center of nearly every trade rumor on this website, finished with 17. I predict he doesn’t actually get traded until the offseason, though. Chicago has now lost six straight to Cleveland.

12. Now comes so more tests, and they start with the Bucks at home on Wednesday. The Cavs have done a nice job without Garland and Mobley, as relayed above. But doing it against the Bulls and doing it against powers such as the Bucks … well, those are two different things entirely. They actually play the Bucks three times in 10 days, the final two of those in Milwaukee.

Looking for the latest NBA Insider News & Rumors?

Be sure to follow Hoops Wire on TWITTER and FACEBOOK for breaking NBA News and Rumors for all 30 teams!


  1. I think they’ve proven to be a pretty good team WITHOUT Garland & Mobley.
    If they’re thinking of making a trade, I don’t think it’s a secret that some of that current successful teamwork is because the turnover man is out with Jaw problems, just like LAST YRS success streak with Garland hurt in Toronto ran about 10 games or so. Yes he IS talented but throwing the ball away & dribbling out the clock is not what is successful with this team.
    Last nights 3rd quarter showed that too. They got away from who they were during the first half, and let the little things cause the lead to disappear.
    This team does NOT do well with a large lead! They get sloppy & Garland, when he is present, usually helps precipitate that direction.

    Ref. a trade, I’d go back to Utah, & give them Garland for Lauri Markkanen & any other player to make the money work. They’ve got good guard penetration with the group playing NOW, IF they could pry away Lauri they would gain the 7ft height/rebounding, a bit more rim protection, & way more 3pt shooting, plus when playing teams like Milwaukee more rotational bigs to put out there. This is what Giannis alluded to when he complimented CLE for their arrival to their competition level when they played the 3 towers. (24pts 9rb, & right at 40% on 3balls.)
    Regaining 4-7 turnover possessions a game too.
    ??? ??? ??? ??? Yeah, I know it would be dramatic but Koby Altman has shown he can work some magic ! (no Orlando reference)

  2. Sam, I sense you’re not pickin’ up what I’m layin down,,, lol & that’s okay, I didn’t expect you to, — You’re a very good fellow, & kind to Darius, & I think he’s really “tops” too, but just “unsettled”. He started out his Cav’s career going FULL SPEED down the court with sexton & blasting away. He did well for that time.

    “Just sayin’ ”

    The team itself IS doing well again, however, with certain teams, ie TOP tier,
    they need some quality height to contend with the foul trouble/ & BIG’s rotation even with Evan Mobley returning. Not to mean Tristan is not doing well, he IS doing far better than I expected, & that can continue, but more like 7 ft height with ability to rotate Allen out in games with Giannis etc when ref whistles are predominantly blown against Cavs.

Leave a Reply