Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 128-96 road romp over the Bulls on Saturday.
1. That was impressive. That was the ball moving and good defense. That was what you’re looking for from your bench. And that was a whole lotta Donovan Mitchell.
2. For the Cavs, that really is how you do it. While Mitchell erupted for 32 points on 10-of-19 shooting, it really was a total team effort. You don’t go into Chicago and blow out the opponent in its home opener with just one guy.
3. But man, Mitchell sure is what the Cavs were missing last season. Right now, the Cavs are without Darius Garland (eye injury), and reportedly could be for anther week. Imagine the Cavs winning this game, this easily, without Garland last season.
4. Mitchell now makes that a reality. As a three-time All-Star, he’s good enough to shoulder the load on his own. For moments on Saturday, that’s exactly what he had to do — and he delivered.
5. When it comes to Mitchell’s help, it’s hard to know where to begin. Evan Mobley record 16 points on 7-of-9 from the field. Kevin Love came off the bench to score 15 and grab 12 rebounds. Cedi Osman also scored 15 in reserve — and don’t look now, but he’s averaging 16 points through the first two games.
6. There’s more. Caris LeVert scored 14 and tied Mitchell with a game-high eight assists. Robin Lopez relieved Jarrett Allen to the tune of 6-of-7 shooting, offering tons of hustle, and helping the Cavs to not skip a beat when they turned to the bench.
7. Lopez finished with 12 points, Allen had eight, and go ahead and pat yourself on the back if you ever thought there’d be a game where the former would outscore the latter.
8. For the record, Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff brought back the “Junkyard Dog” award. It goes to the player who best exhibits an all-out, hustling mentality. On Saturday, it went to Lopez.
9. Then there was the defense. Love told Tim Alcorn and Jim Chones of Cavs radio that the goal was to keep the Bulls to “under 100 (points).” That’s not easy to do. The Bulls are a pretty good team. They were playing in front of the home crowd. Yet the Cavs brought the energy and made Chicago work for every basket.
10. Back to Mitchell. He either scored or assisted on 49 of the Cavs’ points. So it’s safe to say he had a hand in just about everything. He also collected nine rebounds, second on the team only to Love.
11. Mitchell to reporters: “My teammates trust me. My coaches trust me. It just allows you to play with freedom and just do what I do.”
12. That much, already, is clear.
13. Zach LaVine returned from a knee issue to lead the Bulls with 23 points. But the Cavs held DeMar DeRozan in check, limiting him to 13 points. He entered the night averaging 34.5through the first two games.
14. Things don’t get any easier. The Wizards have been sitting and waiting in Cleveland with an off day on Saturday. The Cavs are traveling home to play a back-to-back for their own home opener. But if the Cavs play like this, it shouldn’t be an issue.
Sam Amico is senior NBA writer at Hoops Wire. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(And just took another)
— Sam Amico (@AmicoHoops) October 23, 2022