Cavs Notes: Isaac Okoro, Craig Porter Jr., All-Star Break, more

CLEVELAND — Random dribbles on the Cavaliers ahead of Wednesday’s home game against the Chicago Bulls.Isaac Okoro

1. This is it. The final game before the All-Star break. I won’t be in Indianapolis. I’m too old for All-Star stuff. I just decided that a month ago. The rest of the world probably decided it six years ago.

2. Anyway, back to what you really care about — the (still) pretty hot Cavaliers. Even after Monday’s stunning home loss to short-handed Philadelphia, the Cavs are still 17-2 since early January.

3. I wrote this in my previous dribbles, but I feel bad for the Bulls. I highly doubt these Cavs will lose two in a row at home before the break. Maybe the old Cavs, but not this version. If the Cavs should lose, I suspect one thing — man, are they ready for a break.

4. Joe Gabriele of wrote a nice piece on guard/forward Isaac Okoro, and I have indeed been more impressed with Okoro than ever. I’ve grown to love watching the guy defend. I was always iffy about him before this season. But my opinion on just about everyone has changed, as everyone has been contributing to success in some small way.

5. Coach JB Bickerstaff on Okoro, via Gabriele: “He’s Isaac, and he’s a gem. And if you don’t love the game of basketball or study it or pay attention to it, you can easily miss his value. But if you know the game of basketball and you understand what it takes to make a winning team, you know just how valuable he is, especially in this league.”

6. That about sums it up. Okoro isn’t going to draw a lot of accolades from fans because he doesn’t score a ton and he doesn’t demand the ball. He forces nothing. But pay attention and you’ll see he truly can make a difference.

7. Heck, you can say that about nearly everyone outside of the big four of Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. That’s just the type of year it’s been.

8. On the downside one of those players, Dean Wade, missed Monday’s game and is again listed as questionable vs. the Bulls with an illness. Ditto for Garland and sharpshooter Sam Merrill, so clearly, something is going around. But whatever, man. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Cavs it’s that they can win with whoever is out there.

9. As you likely know by now, the Cavs signed rookie point guard Craig Porter Jr. to a four-year contract. You can read the full story from our Ashish Mathur here. I’m guessing the deal isn’t fully guaranteed, but that’s beside the point. What matters is the Cavs want the young guard to be a part of their future.

10. It’s true that Porter hasn’t played in seven of the past 10 games. But that is also beside the point. I actually have no problem with that. Bickerstaff is already using 10 players most nights. And that’s without Tristan Thompson (suspended) and Merrill receiving limited time. It’s hard to really play nine, and most coaches stick with eight in the playoffs.

11. The thing about having good depth isn’t that everyone plays every night. It’s that players such as Porter, Merrill and others have proven they will be ready in times of need — whether it be injuries, matchups, needed shooting/scoring, whatever. Coaches want to know they can rely on guys when their number is called. Porter has provided that for the Cavs.

12. My favorite questions from fans (OK, my least favorite) are when they demand to know, “Why didn’t Porter play?!?” Well, who do you sit? Mitchell? Garland? Caris LeVert? The correct answer is there are only 48 minutes in a game and you play your best players and veterans for as long as you can until you get the win.

13. Frankly, I don’t see how you question anything about the Cavs since about … oh, Christmas.

14. Anyway, time to wrap this up. I talked more about the team during my latest appearance on 92.3 The Fan. You can listen to the full interview here.

15. Finally, I’m proud to announce I’ll have my own hourlong Cavs show on the wildly popular 330 To Go Facebook page, every Thursday at 6 p.m., starting this Thursday. You can find the page here.

16. Also, the Cavs on the Break crew is holding a special All-Star Game eve Q&A and recording a live podcast at Whitey’s Restaurant in Richfield on Saturday. I’ll be there, as will Kenny Roda, Michael Reghi and host Chase Smith. Admission is free but you need tickets. Click here for more information.

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  1. The answer to # 12. Who do you sit ! ! ! Is Garland. The sharpshooting, sharp passing, sharp scoring, super sharp Defensive Cav’s that have been very snappy winning so much of this year so far, begins to LOSE leads EVERY time Garland plays,,,, WALKING THE BALL UP COURT, While Bic is standing near mid court side out WAVING his hand to hurry them up!
    His defense is nearly always chasing down the side of the lane following the guy he’s guarding that just blew by him only watch him score 2pts & Nyang or Allen having to foul him protecting the basket for a 3 pt play. He IS talented & on occasion plays well for brief periods. But usually when the Cavs have a 10-12 pt lead & Garland comes back in,,,, suddenly inside 2-3 min. that lead is only 2 or 3, & Bic calls a timeout, or waits to do so after they blow another position.
    Sorry, I wish he would plays with the same inspiration the groups played with when he was OUT. Instead his “let down” emotion is catching & confidence erodes with the team members very quickly when he runs the clock down so much & then tosses a 30ft brick that bounces off for a long rebound resulting in oppositions fast break to a 2 or even a 3pt score. !

    That’s the main reason they lost the last game ! IF,,,,IF they had had another one of those minutes Darius had wasted with all his dribble, they would have had time to WIN. & YES, They did miss the defense, rebounding, & scoring of Dean Wade too ! They NEED a 7ft-ish rebounder to give Allen(who’s great) a blow. & I love all the new young talent who have played with CONFIDENCE these last weeks ! Darius CAN do this too, but attitude & consistency mean a lot. Not just “no look” passes at the very end of shot clock.

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