Dribbles: Undermanned, Flat Cavs Take One On Chin Vs. Nets

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 120-101 home loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.Caris LeVert, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA

1. The Cavs were injury-plagued and lacked the energy to make up for it. The Nets were very good. It really was that simple.

2. Along with Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus and Evan Mobley, the Cavs were missing Dean Wade, out for personal reasons. I have no idea if any will play Monday vs. Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns.

3. Yes, the Cavs have another game on Monday night. Thanks a lot, basketball gods.

4. As you know, the Cavs beat the West-leading Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday — and didn’t have Mitchell, Strus or Mobley for that one, either. But hey man, not having three-fifths of your starting five eventually might catch up with you.

5. In this one, it felt like the Cavs were never really in it. They were down 16 heading into the fourth quarter and my first thought was, “Well, they’ve overcome these types of deficits before, and recently.” But it was not to be on Sunday.

6. Sunday also happened to be coach J.B. Bickerstaff‘s 45th birthday. Let’s hope he received many nice things because the game was equivalent to a lump of coal.

7. The Cavs (41-23) have lost four of seven, but two of the wins came against the Timberwolves and Boston Celtics. It’s been an injury-riddled and inconsistent run since the All-Star break. There’s no other way to define it.

8. Georges Niang scored 20 points to lead Cleveland. Jarrett Allen added 15 points and nine rebounds, and Darius Garland had 14 points and five assists (though also four turnovers). Everyone was pretty much just OK, at best.

9. Niang to reporters on the loss: “We just never really got out of the mud.”

10. Yeah, that about sums it up. The Cavs looked like they were running in weighted boots.

11. Nonetheless, Bickerstaff was hardly distraught. “I give our guys a ton of credit,” he told reporters. “They’ve been fighting and scrapping. At some point, emotionally and physically, you just run out of gas. … Just a little too much to overcome tonight.”

12. Reputed Cavs-killer Cam Thomas led the Nets (26-39) with 29 points and Mikal Bridges tacked on 25. The Nets’ starting five overall was just better.

13. It didn’t help that Brooklyn was a sizzling 18-of-35 on 3-pointers and even threw in a couple of 40-foot heaves. “When you’re able to knock down shots like that it changes the game, it changes the spacing,” Bickerstaff said. “It puts so much pressure on a defense.”

14. The Cavs simply had no answers. 

15. Isaac Okoro scored 11 and Caris LeVert got the start, scoring just six but passing for seven assists.

16. Mitchell has missed six straight now and it’s getting to the point that the Cavs are really missing not just his scoring (28.0 ppg), but all the other things he does so well. On the bright side, he resumed on-court work on Sunday.

17. So, not really a whole lot more that can be said about this one — other than to just forget it and move on to the next. With the Suns already in Cleveland, there’s not much time to dwell on it, anyway.

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