Dribbles: Two Overtimes Just Long Enough For Cavs To Blow It vs. Bulls

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 132-123 road loss to the Chicago Bulls in double overtime on Wednesday.Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA

1. The most disappointing thing about this one isn’t necessarily that the Cavs lost. It’s how they lost.

2. They held lead after lead after lead … then failed time and again to put it away. Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen both played arguably their worst games of the season and both messed up at winning time.

3. Mitchell could’ve put the Cavs up by four points with 13 seconds to go in the first overtime but missed a free throw. Then Allen fouled Bulls wing DeMar DeRozan on a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession. DeRozan made all three from the line.

4. That’s not meant to rip either player. Mitchell and Allen are two massive reasons why the Cavs are in second in the Eastern Conference, and everybody deserves an off night. But it just goes to show, those two had better not be off at the same time — or you get this.

5. Perhaps the most telling stat was how the Cavs were crushed on the boards by a whopping 74-39 count. I mean, that’s just a bloodbath on the glass. The Bulls hadn’t recorded that many rebounds in a game since 1975.

6. That’s like 50 years ago for those who don’t feel like doing the math. Fifty years.

7. In other words, the Cavs were pushed around by a team that lost to the lowly Pistons, in Chicago, on the previous night. Chicago is struggling to qualify for the play-in tournament. Cleveland is supposed to be an East contender. But it looked like the opposite of all that in the game’s most critical moments.

8. And yes, the Bulls also played the previous night. So there goes the excuse that the Cavs were tired after beating Dallas on Max Strus‘ 59-footer on Tuesday. The Bulls were probably tired, too.

9. Granted, Evan Mobley was fantastic with 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting, with 13 rebounds. Darius Garland was also pretty good with 23 points and seven threes. Mitchell finished with a respectable 19 points, but he also committed five turnovers. He wasn’t horrible. He just wasn’t himself.

10. And some of those numbers from the Bulls … yeesh. DeRozan finished with 35 points, 10 boards and five assists. He went 17-of-19 from the line. Nikola Vucevic scored 24 with 13 rebounds. Andre Drummond had 17 points and erupted for 26 rebounds. TWENTY-SIX! Those types of numbers should never happen when you have Allen and Mobley. 

11. There’s no excuse. The Cavs were just outworked and outmuscled.

12. Caris LeVert added 14 points and a game-high 15 assists and overall played pretty well. He deserves credit for keeping the offense moving. But he also missed two WIDE-open corner threes with the outcome in the balance.

13. Isaac Okoro had a nice game with 13 points and plenty of hustle. Allen and Strus finished with 11 apiece.

14. Look, the Cavs (38-20) are going to lose some games and even to opponents they’re better than. I get that. But they shouldn’t be giving away wins. That is what they did here.

15. As coach JB Bickerstaff told reporters, “We just didn’t make enough plays down the stretch.” That about sums it up.

16. Bally Sports showed a graphic boasting to viewers that the Cavs had won 11 straight in overtime. I knew then that they were probably in trouble. That’s a joke. Sort of.

17. More Bickerstaff: “Free throws bit us in the butt a little bit. The rebounding disadvantage bit us in the butt quite a bit. … So, a multitude of things that we can improve on.”

18. As disappointing as this one was, the Cavs head to Detroit on Friday, then face New York at home on Sunday and Boston at home on Tuesday. Win those last two and everyone forgets about an ugly loss in Chicago.

19. I’ve been accused at times this season of being a “Cavs cheerleader.” Or something like that. But I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not real high on what the Cavs have shown since the week before the All-Star break. They’ve looked just OK. Before that, they were utterly fantastic. 

20. And this loss won’t change my mind on thinking they’re capable of a deep playoff run. I still believe they’re legit. But even they would likely admit that they need to start playing with more spirit and get back into a rhythm. 

21. This is also a game where they probably could’ve gone deeper into the rotation. Mitchell and Garland each played 44 minutes. Mobley played 42. LeVert played 39, Strus 37 and Allen 34. Yes, that includes both overtimes, but still. Even getting most of those guys just three or four more minutes of rest probably isn’t going to kill you.

22. Anyway, on to the next and another opportunity to come out sharper. The Cavs are 3-4 in their last seven. They’re a better team than that and they say they know it. Time to go out and prove it again.

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  1. I had a LOT to say,,,,, But I didn’t !
    Talk about a rollercoaster….. This “team” is going nowhere.
    1st round exit as they stand NOW.

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