Dribbles: For eighth straight time, yes, Cavs win; and each more impressive than last

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 126-99 road rout of the Orlando Magic on Monday.Sam Merrill

1. Well, that was easy. Whoever thought we’d be saying that, ever, about the Cavs when they played a good team on the road without Darius Garland and Evan Mobley?

2. Guilty as charged, because I sure didn’t see this coming. I sure didn’t see the Cavs winning eight straight at any time without their second- and third-leading scorers. And man, I never thought they’d dominate like they have been lately. Not even close, my brothers and sisters.

3. For the fourth straight game, the Cavs held the opponent to fewer than 100 points. They’ve done it five times during the win streak. 

4. That’s really saying something when you consider this game was about 43.28 minutes of garbage time. Again, the Cavs jumped out to a big lead, then just kept building … and building … and building. They were up by 25 at halftime.

5. Oh, the Cavs didn’t have Caris LeVert, either. He missed his second straight game with an injured wrist. LeVert has scored at least 21 points in five of the past nine games in which he’s appeared.

6. As for impressive individual performances, I guess we have to start with Sam Merrill yet again. The man is cookin’, scoring 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting, and all on 3-pointers. He started the game 6-of-7 and had 20 points by the half. The Magic just looked helpless against his ultra-quick release, as so many others before them this year.

7. We also have to throw in Jarrett Allen, who recorded 14 points and 11 rebounds. That’s a franchise-record 12 straight double-doubles, surpassing former Cleveland big man Elmore Smith along the way.

8. Or how about Donovan Mitchell? I don’t know that I’ve ever seen him look to facilitate as much as he has during this stretch — and it’s unquestionably a major reason for the winning streak. Mitchell scored 25 points, all within the flow of the offense, and passed for 13 assists.

9. It’s hard to believe that Mitchell could take his game to another stratosphere, but if he continues to find open teammates in this fashion … well, he’ll be remembered as something more than just a remarkable scorer. All the super-duper stars create opportunities for their teammates, and that is where Mitchell is today.

10. You’ve likely heard it a thousand times by now, but over the past five games, the Cavs have trailed for a grand total of 35 seconds. 

11. Mitchell to Bally Sports on the state of things: “When (Garland and Mobley) first got hurt, our biggest thing was to do this as a collective. You can’t replace those two. We have to do it as a group.”

12. Allen said his mother flew to Orlando to watch the game live, in the event he broke the double-double record. He did not disappoint. “We’re still not done,” he said. “I still want to get the record up, I still want to continue this streak.”

13. Craig Porter Jr. added 12 points and five assists, and Georges Niang went for 12 points and five boards. Max Strus, Isaac Okoro, Dean Wade and Tristan Thompson each offered underrated contributions in their own way.

14. The Cavs (26-15) have the same record at the midway point of the season that they had last year. People hate giving credit to the coach, but J.B. Bickerstaff deserves plenty for getting this group to ascend despite some tricky circumstances. No team in the NBA is hotter than Cleveland.

15. Bickerstaff to reporters on the winning streak: “Each of our guys is thriving in their roles.”

16. Next up: Well, how does two in Milwaukee sound, and a week after the Cavs demolished the Bucks in Cleveland? This time, the Bucks are expected to have superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. But hey, right now, I’m not about to pick against Cleveland. It just doesn’t seem like the sensible thing to do.

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  1. 25 games for Thompson and how many did the clown from the Warriors get for brutalizing players and officials alike? Equity? Also, whose idea was it play back to back games in Milwaukee? This league needs an enema.

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