Dribbles: No Need to Get Too Down on Cavaliers Just Yet

Sam Amico

CLEVELAND -- Random dribbles from the Cavaliers' 127-94 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday.

1. It was a bad loss to an opponent that's had some recent struggles of its own. As Kevin Love said, "We just came out and laid an egg."

2. That is true. The Cavs (5-15) looked bad. But as much as we hate to hear it, this is about what coach John Beilein and even the front office expected.

3. With a young backcourt of Collin Sexton (22 points) and Darius Garland, there will be some nights like this. Bad nights. Nights where the Cavs just aren't watchable.

4. This isn't to pin everything on the guards. But they are the two starters who are still learning about this league the most. Sexton is 20 years old, Garland 19. They also are the two players who set up the offense. You don't want to get in the habit of making excuses, but age/experience is a pretty fair one.

5. Love struggled (eight points, four rebounds) and offered plenty of insight afterward, touching on the Cavs' issues without naming names.

6. Love on the offense: "We just need flow. Too many times, we don't know what (set) we're in."

7. That falls almost entirely on the guards. They are the quarterbacks of the team and it is their job to direct things. 

8. Love took just seven shots. Tristan Thompson (10 points, 14 rebounds) took 11. Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders astutely pointed out that Love and Thompson had a nice two-man game early in the season. The Cavs were looking good at the time. But now the Love-Thompson combo is gone.

9. Love was asked what's happened. "It's pretty much been nonexistent," he said. "I'm just trying to get myself involved a little more. I don't know. I can't really answer that."

10. He added that he thinks the Cavs could use more ball movement, especially compared to earlier in the season. Now it seems they have regressed a little in the areas of spacing, pace and passing. "We're making it too easy on teams with those one-pass, two-pass or no-pass shots," Love said.

11. It's not just the offense. The Cavaliers allowed the Pistons to shoot 51 percent (18-of-35) on 3-pointers. Things weren't much better near the rim. Blake Griffin finished with 24 points. He went 6-of-7 on threes.

12. Sexton on the defense: "We just have to make sure we stay solid and don't gamble too much. When we gamble, they get the ball moving, we start scrambling and they get open threes. We have to be conscious of that."

13. Cedi Osman continues to be up and down. This was a down one. He finished with 10 points, but didn't really start scoring until the game was out of hand. In the first half, he took two shots for one point.

14. Garland also was a non-factor. He finished with eight points on 3-of-7 shooting.

15. Osman and Garland combined for one rebound and zero assists in 54 minutes. Again, this is just how it often goes with so many key players developing.

16. The Cavs have played five of their six-game homestand. They've one once (vs. Portland).

17. Beilein was feeling good before the game. The Cavs had three days off and two full days of practice. He stressed that he was pleased with the practices, describing them as a return to the basics.

18. Despite the blowout, the coach stayed positive. "I am disappointed, but not going to flinch," he said. "We will learn from it. We will have a video session on it. We will find ways to grow even from a really humbling loss."

19. Honestly, there is no need to harp on the negative game after game. As Beilein added, "You have to find some positives. If you keep showing the players what they're doing wrong, they will keep doing it wrong. You have to show them what they're doing right so they will get better."

20. Bottom line: The Cavs have a long way to go. They knew they would. There will be some nights where they pull a surprise, maybe beat someone they shouldn't. But there will be more nights like this. Then the trade deadline will come in February and the roster may look quite different on the other side.

21. Still, they are just 20 games in. Beilein is a first-time NBA coach. Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. (12 points) are still rookies, Sexton in just his second year. Osman is in his third, but spent his first riding the bench for veteran team. They deserve more time.

22. The game also marked the return of big man John Henson. He played 14 minutes, scored two points and grabbed two rebounds. Until Tuesday, he had played just eight minutes in a Cavs uniform. "We're not where we want to be," he said. "But we can't stop fighting. We're not going to give up, it's too early."

23. For more on the game, check out my recap: Cavaliers' optimism quickly turns to mush in defeat.

24. Next up: The Cavs face Orlando on Friday to conclude their six-game homestand. It will mark the second time they've hosted the Magic in less than 10 days. The last one didn't go so well. No telling how this one might.

Comments (1)
No. 1-1

Why was Love inked to a $30MM/yr deal & then not featured on offense? He is not being paid so much for his defense. I thought Altman signed Love, in part, for his versatile offensive repertoire & planned to usher in an improved version of Minnesota Love. Instead, the college coach he hired has led to Love taking the fewest shots since his 2nd year in the league. The losses do not concern me, but Beilein's system, which minimizes Love & produces little serious movement, does concern me. Obviously, Altman made a huge mistake in paying Love like so much money or in hiring a college coach who does want to feature him or both.