Dribbles: Cavs Stay Injured, Winless at Home; But No Time for Alarm

CLEVELAND — Random dribbles from the Cavaliers’ 109-91 home loss to the New York Knicks on Tuesday.Donovan Mitchell drives by Quentin Grimes

1. Maybe by the time you read this the Cavs will have announced that Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert are returning from their injuries.

2. Otherwise, I don’t really like their chances against the Knicks … or probably anyone.

3. Right now, the Cavs are just vastly undermanned and overmatched. Even Donovan Mitchell wasn’t enough to save the day. And without four of their main players (backup point guard Ty Jerome included), the entire everything is just out of sorts.

4. So this wasn’t really the Cavs vs. the Knicks. It was more like Mitchell, Evan Mobley, some new guys and a couple of G League guys vs. the Knicks.

5. The outcome was about what you’d expect.

6. Mobley had a quiet night offensively, which is unfortunate because these are the type of nights he could really put his stamp on the game. He did a nice job defensively and in collecting 12 rebounds. But both Mobley and the Cavs need to figure out how he can attempt more than nine shots and score more than six points, as he did Wednesday.

7. I’m not paid nor smart enough to know the solution, but that just can’t happen. Not when you’re already missing so many big guns.

8. To be fair, Mobley could be missing Garland more than anyone. Whenever the starting point guard is out, it’s often the starting big men who suffer.

9. Also, coach J.B. Bickerstaff said when others are making outside shots, it helps open things up on the inside. That makes life easier for big men such as Mobley. On Tuesday, that didn’t happen, as the Cavs again struggled mightily from the perimeter.

10. More Bickerstaff on Mobley: “I think we have to do a better job of getting him the ball, and that’s me included. We were heavy in the pick-and-roll, and they were trapping him or trapping Donovan. … If we make a few more of those shots, then they have to stay at home (on the shooters). But I think Evan’s gonna make the right basketball play and the kickouts were there. We just gotta knock down the shots.”

11. Makes sense. And let’s just hope there aren’t too many more nights where the Cavs shoot 26 percent (10-of-38) on 3-pointers.

12. Max Strus was 1-of-7 on threes for six points. Dean Wade was 0-of-4 on threes for zero points. Those are two of your starters, on a night when you needed them to be better than usual.

13. That’s not intended to rip either player — rather, to show that the Cavs just couldn’t find the range. With so many key people out, you have very little margin for error.

14. And yes, they get to try it all again, as they boarded their flight for New York shortly after the loss.

15. At least the Cavs (1-3) are getting a long look at two-way rookies Craig Porter Jr. (10 points, four rebounds) and Emoni Bates (nine points, 2-of-5 on threes). They joined their teammates in really competing. But asking them to beat the Knicks is a massive request.

16. Bickerstaff on the rookies: “I thought they both did a really good job in a tough spot. It was obviously their first real action in an NBA game, and I thought they were both poised and made good use of their minutes.”

17. Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle each scored 19 to lead the Knicks (2-2), and Immanuel Quickley scored 18. That’s a guard who lives up to his name, as he darts around the court and can break some ankles with the ball in the process. Also, former Cavs guard/forward Dylan Windler got three minutes of garbage time.

18. Mitchell finished with 26 points, scoring 20 of those in the first half to keep things interesting. But the third quarter turned into a basketball disaster for Cleveland.

19. I’ve probably written about this one too much already, so let’s just stop it here.

20. But before we do, let me just say it’s hardly time to get all up in arms. Bickerstaff predicted there will likely come a time when the Cavs are healthy and able to rattle off a winning streak of “eight or nine” games. With the exception of the Celtics, no one has dominated the first week. An 82-game season is full of ebbs and flows. So we can say with confidence that the Cavs will bounce back at some point.

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!

Leave a Reply