Dribbles: Cavs Have Dropped Three Of Four And Not Looked Good Along Way

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ clunker of a 104-97 road loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday. …Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA

1. You can’t get too worked up about what happens in February, but you can get frustrated. That’s exactly what the Cavs have been over the past four games — baffling.

2. The Cavs (36-19) know they’re better than what they’ve shown lately. And what they have shown lately ain’t great, as they’ve now lost three of four after a nine-game win streak.

3. Two of those losses have come to the Sixers. Neither time did Philadelphia have All-Star center Joel Embiid. Maybe the Cavs need Embiid to play. After all, they beat the Sixers in Philadelphia when Embiid played earlier this season.

4. The Cavs didn’t have Donovan Mitchell for that game, and they didn’t have him for this one. The difference is, last time they pulled together and found a way. This time, they just looked last at crunch time. Worse, they couldn’t make a meaningful shot (particularly a 3-pointer).

5. As you probably know, the Cavs haven’t had Mitchell for either of the last two. They lost to Orlando at home on Friday. Philadelphia was also playing its second game in two nights.

6. Look, nobody expects the Cavs to go on winning streaks of eight and nine in a row every month. They still have the NBA’s best record since January 1. But in this league, it’s what have you done for me lately? In the Cavs’ case, the answer is not much.

7. So yes, the Cavs have lost two straight. This also marked their first road loss in a month. They had won six in a row on the road. And Philly had lost six straight at home.

8. You can chalk this one up to a whole bunch of shots that wouldn’t drop. Caris LeVert came off the bench for a 1-of-11 shooting night. Yuck. Evan Mobley went 3-of-8 for eight points. Overall, the Cavs were a miserable 8-of-27 on threes and 21-of-31 on free throws.

9. You’re not gonna win missing 10 free throws on the road, I don’t care who you play.

10. Mostly, in the past two games, the Cavs’ bench has let them down. This is a team that takes great pride in its depth — and it should. But it has yet to show itself in the two games since the All-Star break.

11. I don’t want to keep harping on the negative, but if you remember, the Cavs barely beat the struggling Chicago Bulls in the last game before the break. That was their one win in the last four, and they had to make a fierce rally to get it.

12. Translation: It’s easy to not like what you’ve seen lately.

13. A road game against the lowly Washington Wizards is up next (Sunday). Washington is just 1-34 against teams with winning records. So the Cavs need to pull it together. It could serve as the type of homecoming game they need. But they have to go out and take it.

14. The Cavs scored 50 points in the first half and 47 in the second. It’s not like them to fail to hit 100 points. Nonetheless, they had their chances late.

15. Coach JB Bickerstaff to reporters: “That first half kind of bit us in the butt a little bit. The ball was a little sticky. We were trying to play in small spaces, trying to create in places that weren’t there.”

16. He added that the Cavs did a better job of creating open looks in the final 24 minutes. “The shots just didn’t go for us,” he said.

17. That’s all accurate. Jarrett Allen led the way with 24 points and nine rebounds, but man, he looked exhausted at the end. Darius Garland added 20 points and nine assists — and made a fantastic steal that led to a Max Strus layup to pull the Cavs to within three. But it was a case of too little, too late.

18. Strus scored 14 and Isaac Okoro had another solid game with 11. As a unit, though, the Cavs were just out of sorts and that’s been going on too often lately.

19. Again, despite it all, a few more knocked down wide-open shots and it’s a different story. “We missed free throws, we missed open looks,” Bickerstaff said. “I thought we played the right way.”

20. Right way, wrong way, whatever. Cleveland just needs a win.

21. Tyrese Maxey led the Sixers (33-22) with 24 points, including 4-of-4 shooting from the line to seal the win.

22. Mitchell’s illness is unspecified. I suspect he will play on Sunday at Washington. Clearly, the Cavs could really use the boost.

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  1. Same thing happened last yr at the very beginning of the season. DG got his eye scratched, remember. With Mitchell running the team, WIN STREAK! Then when DG comes back -NOPE. Team cohesion disappears. Same this time too, with the exception of better shooters on the team. Trying to ZIP unsuspecting passes to Allen under the basket with (3) THREE opponents on him IS NOT WISE–Turnover! Even the TV announcer immediately said so. That sort of thing happens a LOT. Secondly, Levert has began to look a lot more like the Dribbling DG too, doing almost the same thing, just a little less, and “short-arming” the shot.
    Team Cohesion they had IS GONE with these two running things. There’s NO expectation of what each other is doing out there.
    Just like you said last year, Okoro is running around out there not doing anything on offense. Well, their all doing that when DG & Levert are running the show. Razzle/dazzle unexpected under handed passes off the backboard at the end of the clock– CHAOS ! Showboating & ball hogging- Can’t win that way, sorry.

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