CLEVELAND — Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ impressive 104-96 home win over the Raptors on Sunday.
1. Man, the Cavs needed that. They knew it, and they went out and took it.
2. This was the second straight game the Cavs played what J.B. Bickerstaff loves to call “Cavaliers Basketball.” By that, the coach is referring to sturdy defense, lots of grit and knowing that those things often result in a win.
3. When the Cavs come out and get the job done defensively, they generally play with more energy on offense, move the ball better, get better looks at the basket. That’s Cavaliers Basketball, too.
4. On the downside, Jarrett Allen exited the game late in the first quarter with a left quad contusion. And that wasn’t even the bad news. Instead, as we relayed earlier, Allen has a fractured finger and is out indefinitely. That stings.
5. On the bright side, Evan Mobley snapped out of his mini funk — with 20 points a whopping 17 rebounds.
6. Mobley has been hearing the phrase “Rookie Wall” next to his name quite a bit lately. It refers to when first-year players realize there are 82 games in a season. It can be overwhelming — especially when you played about 50 less last year in college.
7. And remember, that’s 50 less games against college players. Every night in the NBA is like a college All-Star game.
8. But we all know Mobley is a future NBA star. On Sunday, he showed why we believe it.
9. Bickerstaff on Mobley: “It was just himself asserting himself on the game. … For him to go out and do what he did tonight, that’s special.”
10. Not to be forgotten was the performance of Lauri Markkanen, whose 22 points and 12 boards also helped overcome the loss of Allen. In fact, this again was a team effort in the truest sense, as five Cavs reached double figures in scoring.
11. Also on that list were Darius Garland (17 points, 10 assists), Cedi Osman (17 points) and Kevin Love (15). Each had their moments of displaying guts and making sure on this night, the Cavs would walk away with the glory.
12. Garland to Bally Sports Ohio’s Serena Winters: “We know our offense is gonna come if we get stops. It lets us get out in transition and get some easy buckets.”
13. That is pretty much what happened on this night. That is pretty much how the Cavs (37-27) have approached things in all their wins. And that pretty much is why this squad is playoff-bound.
14. Of course, we can’t help but mention the monster and posterizing slam from Dean Wade (see below). It was at about that point you just knew this was going to be the Cavs’ night.
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) March 7, 2022
15. Bickerstaff smirked when asked if he knew that Wade could dunk that way. “We knew it. We were trying to get his ass to do it,” he said.
16. Wade will likely be getting more of an opportunity to do it, given the Allen situation. Obviously, the Cavs will need everyone from Mobley to Markkanen to Love to Wade, to even Ed Davis, to raise their games.
17. This was a critical win in the sense that the Raptors (34-30) are one spot behind the Cavs in the Eastern Conference standings. But Toronto has lost three straight and a difficult trip out West looms. The Cavs have guaranteed themselves the tiebreaker, winning all three matchups with only one remaining (March 24 at Toronto).