Dribbles: Cavs’ win streak brought to halt, and frankly, ‘we kind of deserved to lose’

CLEVELAND — Random dribbles from the Cavaliers’ stunner of a 123-121 home loss to the shorthanded Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.Evan Mobley grabs a rebound vs. the 76ers

1. Well, that sure isn’t how anyone thought the winning streak would be snapped.

2. Not against these Sixers, who were without reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid and starting forward Tobias Harris. But that’s all she wrote, folks. The winning streak is over after nine games.

3. Look, the Cavs weren’t very good most of the night. They weren’t themselves. They seemed flat and were just outworked. It’s no reason for panic. It was a bad night. Those happen in the NBA.

4. But man, you gotta win this game. 

5. And the Cavs did have an excellent chance despite their mostly lousy showing. But Darius Garland‘s corner 3-pointer bounced away at the final buzzer.

6. Amazingly, the Cavs trailed by seven points with 58 seconds to go. So they tried to do an entire night’s worth of work in less than a minute. That’s hard to pull off.

7. Evan Mobley on the loss: “We’re a very good team, but we can’t have games like this, where we come out flat.”

8. Donovan Mitchell: “I don’t mean this to sound harsh, but we kind of deserved to lose. We didn’t come out the right way … it’s nothing to overreact to but we gotta come out with the right mentality.”

9. Most of that was evident on the defensive end, particularly early. By halftime, the Cavs had surrendered 66 points. That’s not ideal even if Embiid had played. The fact Philadelphia was without him … well, you know the rest.

10. The Cavs (35-17) are still a game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for first place in the Central Division and second overall in the Eastern Conference. In the event you keep track of such things.

11. The Sixers (32-21) had won just two of 10 coming in. The Cavs had won nine straight. So yeah, I don’t get it, either. I also am positive, as Mitchell suggested, that it’s not a big deal. Cleveland will have more bad losses and more remarkable wins this season.

12. The next opportunity comes Wednesday at home against the Chicago Bulls. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to be the Bulls right now. I really don’t foresee the Cavs losing two in a row at home against struggling teams.

13. Yes, feel free to entirely blame me if the Cavs lose on Wednesday too.

14. Mitchell was masterful with 36 points and just kept fighting despite the team’s overall listless showing. Jarrett Allen added 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Garland scored 21 on 9-of-16 shooting. The Cavs just needed him to finish 10-of-16. 

15. Also, Mobley went for 14 points and 10 boards. Caris LeVert scored 11 and Max Strus 10. Offense was not the problem here.

16. Rather, the issue was noted Cavs killers Buddy Hield (24 points), Kelly Oubre (24) and Tyrese Maxey (22). They just lit it up. Hield is new to the Sixers and while he can be inconsistent, man, he always has his way against the Cavs. It doesn’t matter which uniform he’s wearing or who’s in uniform for Cleveland.

17. So there you have it. The Cavs not only had won nine straight but were sporting an NBA-best record of 17-1 in 2024. They were cruisin’ man. But all good things must come to an end, and the Cavs have just one more game before the All-Star break. The best way to go into it? Yep, by starting another hot streak.

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