Dribbles: Hard to Tell What Future Holds for Cavs, But We Can Guess
CLEVELAND -- Random dribbles from the Cavaliers' 119-110 home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.
1. This was one of those nights that you tried to come away with some focus on the big picture.
2. On the bright side, Darius Garland (21 points) was good. Cedi Osman (20 points) was also good. Larry Nance Jr. (18 points, nine rebounds, some stellar defense) was very good.
3. Those three are all expected to be here for the long term.
4. Kevin Love (16 points) and Tristan Thompson (11 points, 13 boards) were good as well. Jordan Clarkson (eight points) was OK.
5. I'm not sure what the future holds for those three in Cleveland.
6. All three could be here at the trading deadline -- and beyond. All three could be gone either by the middle of February or after the season. One could go. Two could go. All three could stay, but I sort of doubt it.
7. That's not any sort of inside information. It's just me thinking out loud. If Love stays healthy, contenders will be calling. That much I do know.
8. Meanwhile, Thompson and Clarkson both have expiring contracts. Both are veteran players who could offer some really nice things to playoff teams. That much I also know.
9. Has anyone called yet? That much I do not know. But I sort of doubt it.
10. Basically, the Cavs are trying to build something. They are willing to be patient with Garland, Osman, Collin Sexton and Kevin Porter Jr. They are willing to keep Nance as a major part of things moving forward. Good on all accounts.
11. But at some point ... if the losses continue to pile up ... you have to wonder what the roster will look like by the end of the season.
12. The Cavs (5-14) have lost nine of 10. They put together a clunker of a first half, played beautifully in the second, and failed to finish the job. At this point, it would be shocking if they finished anywhere outside of the top 10 in the draft lottery.
13. So you have to wonder how old Love will be the next time they get really good again. You have to wonder if Thompson and Clarkson will want to re-sign as unrestricted free agents in July.
14. I'm not saying I have the answers. But I do think it's fair to wonder. The guess here is we will know a little more in three or four weeks, and a heck of a lot more at season's end.
15. The Cavs fell behind by 20 at halftime, then came charging back in the the third quarter. They even had the deficit down to three late in the game. The entire team played admirably in the second half, outscoring the Bucks (16-3) by 11.
16. They also deserve credit for moving the ball and passing for a season-high 32 assists, as well as shooting 50 percent on 3-pointers (17-of-34) and 50 percent from the field overall (44-of-88).
17. Along with that, the Cavs committed 14 turnovers -- a dramatic improvement from the previous game, when they coughed up the ball 25 times.
18. Most of all, it was good to see their early-season grit make a comeback in the final 24 minutes.
19. Beilein on the night: "We battled like crazy ... but the ball didn't bounce our way (at the end of the game). I think we had it down to three points five or six times. I hope that's the team you'll see more often than you've been seeing the last couple of weeks."
20. Beilein on the shooting: "I hope it's a sign of things to come, that we're getting off 30 to 40 threes a game and that we're making 40 percent. That's where we need to get. That's what the great teams are doing."
21. You can hardly fault the Cavs for losing to the Bucks, who own the East's best record and look like a true Finals contender. They are riding a 10-game winning streak for the first time since 1985-86. "It's amazing," Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo said.
22. Antetokounmpo opened the night with a massive dunk and finished with 33 points. He looks like he could win league MVP again already. Bucks guard George Hill also killed his former team with 18 points and a huge third quarter.
23. For more on the game, check out my recap: Garland, Cavs show promise, but can't slow rolling Bucks.
24. Overall, Beilein is right. The Cavs need to have more nights like the second half to keep the fans coming back. They don't always have to win (though once in a while would be nice). They just have to show the fighting spirit that made it a fun night at the arena. At least, that is all most fans are seeking. They want to be entertained.
25. It's still early, though. The Cavs had an enthused crowd, an announced sellout of 19,432. It may not have been exactly that number, but it was close. What the Cavs need to avoid are the ugly home losses -- such as the one Wednesday against a struggling and depleted Orlando squad.
26. Next up: Much to Beilein's delight, the Cavs actually have three days off before their next game. That takes place Tuesday vs. Detroit. They then get two more days off before hosting the Magic again. They could use the practice after playing every other night for what feels like 25 years.
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