East Notes: Cavs, Pacers, Nets

Cavaliers

All-Star point guard Darius Garland spoke confidently after the Cavs’ disappointing home loss to the Bulls on Saturday, saying he suspects the team will bring a halt to its late-season slide.

“Lot of basketball left,” Garland said. “We’re going to keep getting better. We’re going to play like we’re in that top 6 seed and we’re going to do what we do. We still have a lot of games left and we’re going to get there.”

The Cavs are currently in seventh in the Eastern Conference with eight games to go. They had been in the top six for the majority of the season. But as I wrote in my latest Dribbles, young teams tend to fade after the All-Star break. And the Cavs are incredibly young. They are also missing All-Star center Jarrett Allen (finger).

Still Garland predicted a top-six finish, which would allow the Cavs to avoid the dreaded play-in tournament.

“I’ve got confidence in us. We all have confidence in that locker room that we’re going to be there in that top 6,” Garland said. “If we’re in the play-in game or whatever, we’re in the playoffs, we’re going to get there.”

  • In case you missed it, you can check out the latest Dribbles right here. Garland is right, the Cavs can’t get down and have to keep their heads high — and take charge of their own destiny for the postseason.

Pacers

The season can’t end soon enough for the Pacers, who are very clearly playing out the string in hopes of a better 2022-23.

Coach Rick Carlisle missed his second straight game for personal reasons in Saturday’s blowout loss to the Raptors, and guard Malcolm Brogdon (rest/conditioning) missed his fourth straight. Also, guard Chris Duarte (toe) and center/forward Isaiah Jackson (headache) missed his second straight.

“We just keep it professional, but he’s doing well,” acting coach Lloyd Pierce said of Carlisle. “He’s concerned about us but we’re concerned about him as well.”

  • The Pacers are a miserable 9-29 on the road, though they are 3-5 in March. Overall, they have lost seven of 10 and three straight.

Nets

Saturday’s blowout win over the Heat shows the Nets are peaking at the right time, according to coach Steve Nash.

“You could see the energy and commitment,” Nash said. “It’s great when we can turn defense to offense. We can be punishing in transition, but really it’s just about getting stops. That’s the No. 1 thing.”

The Nets are finally at full strength, minus Ben Simmons, though is still expected to play this season. They are now just two games behind the fading Cavs for seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Wins such as the one over the Heat show that the Nets are serious about climbing in the standings.

“It was a playoff-like game for us,” center Andre Drummond said. “We’re in that mindset where every game counts; we play each and every game with a sense of urgency.”

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1 COMMENT

  1. Yep, I read your “Dribbles” – right on target as usual, serious time, but optimistic. I’d like to be there too, but not quite. I HOPE Darius means what he says, because there’s Not really much time left as he thinks. It’s Actually NOW. The way Toronto is playing it doesn’t look like they can catch THEM….If the CAVS keep playing the same as last couple weeks (stranger things have happened though) They might have a shot at a sliding Bulls team. Most likely scenario is a Play-in & loss to Nets or Hawks depending how far the slide. Sad that they haven’t taken care of business so far, coupled with the injuries, but it IS STILL better than we all expected.

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