Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ massacre of a 131-95 preseason road loss to the Bulls …
1. Let me start by saying I don’t think the Cavs are this bad. But the emphasis in that sentence is on think.
2. There are definitely areas of concern. Defensively, I don’t see how the Cavs are going to stop anyone. Jarrett Allen was OK at the rim. Rookie Evan Mobley showed he’s agile enough to defend on the perimeter.
3. Those aren’t anything to hang your hat on, but they’re something. Sadly for the Cavs’ regular rotation, that’s about as good as it got.
4. Offensively, I liked what I saw from Darius Garland. He ran the team with confidence and made a few nice passes. But that too was about as good as it got.
5. Other than that, the Cavs mostly looked way out of sorts and forced up shots. It was as if coach J.B. Bickerstaff‘s entire rotation consisted of nothing but rookies and had never practiced.
6. And hey, it’s not like the Bulls are some Eastern Conference power that’s been playing together forever. Guard Lonzo Ball and wing DeMar DeRozan are entirely new to Chicago, and center Nikola Vucevic is fairly new. The Bulls also started Javonte Green.
7. But that lineup, along with mainstay Zach LaVine, totally had its way with the Cavs. Wasn’t even close.
8. Collin Sexton led the Cavs with 14 points, but created no offense for anyone else and committed five turnovers. We can chalk it up to a bad night for Sexton, but the Cavs can’t go through another season of him looking for his shot first … and last.
9. Mobley wasn’t bad himself, recording 10 points and eight rebounds. Lauri Markkanen scored 13 points, but his defense gave a peek into why the Bulls were so willing to give up on him.
11. Bickerstaff summed it up this way to reporters: “Every night there’s targets on your back and you have to be prepared for that. It’s not an easy thing. But you have to learn and those are the choices you’re going to have to make. You have to understand people are coming at you. How do you respond when they come at you?”
12. In Game 1 of the preseason, the Cavs responded poorly.
13. But again, this game doesn’t count in anything but the eye test. Are there concerns? Sure. You don’t rally in garbage time and still lose by 36 without some eyebrows being raised. That said, this is part of the learning process for a team that remains incredibly young.
14. Mobley on the loss: “We were all jittery, first game, we’re a young team. A lot of that played a factor.”
15. He’s right about that. On the bright side, the Cavs get another shot on the road Wednesday against the Hawks. On the downside, if they play like this again, it will go a step further toward proving what we already suspect — that general manager Koby Altman and the rest will have to make some changes to take the “next step” of which they keep talking.