Dribbles: Four-Game Trip Could Serve Cavs Well

Random dribbles ahead of the Cavaliers’ matchup at the Thunder on Wednesday.Evan Mobley blocks a shot by Lu Dort.

1. So this is how it begins — a rematch with the Thunder, this time in Oklahoma City, to start a four-game trip. This time, the Thunder will have to face a (mostly) whole Cavs team.

2. Who can forget the team’s first meeting, when the Cavs blew a nine-point lead with two minutes to go? Actually, a lot of people in Cleveland probably hope to forget that one, the Cavs’ home-opener. But the Cavs didn’t have Darius Garland or Jarrett Allen. They do tonight.

3. I said this during my radio appearance on 92.3 The Fan and Cleveland.com’s Sports 4 CLE already, but the Cavs are coming off their best six quarters of the season. That consists of the final two in Friday’s In-Season Tournament loss at Indiana, then Sunday’s home win over mighty Golden State.

4. The difference between those two games and the rest of the season? You guessed it — the Cavs had their entire starting five. So as far as I’m concerned, the Cavs (3-4) are actually 1-1.

5. This game will give us another chance to check out Evan Mobley vs. Chet Holmgren, and I think Mobley has more potential to become a super-duper star. But right now, the edge goes to Holmgren, a 7-footer who can do it all — shoot from the outside, drive and score inside, block shots and pass. Mobley can do most of things too, he just needs to do them more consistently.

6. I personally don’t care if Mobley can’t make 3-pointers. I don’t think it’s a “must” to add to his game. It’s much more important that he score off footwork and post moves, and continue to set up others. Mobley is a selfless player, and as coach J.B. Bickerstaff has said, “will always make the right play.” 

7. Mobley needs two things: a) more touches and b) to be more consistently aggressive when he does get the ball. I’m not a coach and don’t pretend to be one. I’m just basing these observations on watching him play every game. Defensively, he’s fantastic. The same goes for his rebounding.

8. At any rate, as a team, the Cavs have a real chance here to show the type of team they are by getting a few of these next four. Along with OKC, they visit the Warriors, Kings and Trail Blazers. With everyone healthy, I expect the Cavs to win two. And anytime you go .500 on the road, that’s a win. Right now, the Cavs are 2-1 on the road.

9. So this is a true early-season test, the kind that can bring a team together. These Cavs have the type of togetherness to use this as a time to soar. President of basketball operations Koby Altman has done a nice job of putting together personalities that mesh. That can count for a lot on these types of trips.

10. Isaac Okoro (knee soreness) and Ty Jerome (ankle) remain out for the Cavs. Jerome has appeared in just one game.

11. I have a lot more dribbles from yesterday right here. I also talk plenty about Mobley, Donovan Mitchell, the NBA Play-In Tournament and more with Andy Baskin and Jeff Phelps right here.

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