Dribbles: Ain't No Doubt About It, Cavs Hurtin' for Certain
Random dribbles following the Cavaliers' 124-100 road loss to the Miami Heat on Wednesday.
1. Sometimes, you're just not as good as the other guy. That's all I can come up with to explain the Cavs' five-game losing streak. The last four have been in fairly ugly fashion.
2. On Wednesday, I saw Cedi Osman dribble the ball off his heel for a backcourt violation. I saw Osman and Matthew Dellavedova clank a couple of open 3-pointers. I saw Osman, Delly and a few others look as if they were standing in cement as the opponent drove past them for easy baskets.
3. And that was just the first quarter.
4. To show you how bad it eventually became, Delly earned a starting spot for the second half. So did Jordan Clarkson and rookie Kevin Porter Jr. Osman, Collin Sexton and Darius Garland did not.
5. I'm not sure I even blame the Cavs here. Not entirely. They don't match up well with the Heat, or any other Eastern Conference contender. As coach John Beilein told reporters, "We played a really good team and lost to them, and that's just what it is."
6. Still, something has gone awry. The defense certainly needs work, and lots of it. The Cavs (4-10) also seem to be missing the fighting spirit that helped make them entertaining and competitive through the first nine games.
7. I feel a little bit bad for Beilein. We learned early that he's a good coach. But this is a brutal portion of the schedule with a lot of road games. The Cavs have already had to play Miami and Philadelphia twice apiece. They went to New York twice in eight days. They won the first time by 21. No way the Knicks were going to let them do that again.
8. That said, aside from the likes of Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson (who sat out Wednesday to rest), Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson, the Cavs just don't have the experience or depth to beat good teams on the road. They may not even have enough to beat some bad ones.
9. Beilein suggested that he may tinker with the starting lineup. He was not pleased that Heat forward Duncan Robinson lit up the Cavs for seven 3-pointers in the first half. Robinson played for Beilein at Michigan. He finished with 29 points, including 9-of-15 shooting on threes.
10. Robinson's frenzy was the result of the Cavs lacking "attention to detail," Beilein said. "Duncan Robinson can really shoot. Breaking news. But how the heck does he get off 12 (threes) when that's the case?"
11. Also, Heat guard Tyler Herro finished with 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting. Like the Cavs' Garland, Herro is a rookie. Herro was drafted with the 13th pick, eight after Garland. Hey, who's to say you need to tank to get a young player who can help right away?
12. That's not a shot at Garland. He is progressing. At the very least, he's shooting more. On this night, he took 12 shots, made four, and finished with 10 points. He is the best passer on the team and is starting to look like more of a true point guard than Sexton.
13. Sexton finished with 19 points, and along with Clarkson, you can almost always count on Sexton to at least get a bucket. That's good, because the Cavs need buckets. But one game after finishing with one assist, Sexton had none against the Heat. To recap, that's a total of one assist in two games from your starting point guard. That's not OK.
14. Love went for 25 points and 13 rebounds, finishing 5-of-9 on threes. Nance was very good in filling in for Thompson with 16 points, nine boards and active hands defensively.
15. Meanwhile, Osman is almost hurting the team. He sort of stumbled his way to three points. During the five-game losing streak, he has scored more than five points just once, and that was a week ago. If a change is needed in the starting lineup, maybe that's where it should start.
16. And remember the part about this being fairly ugly overall? Well, in the previous four games, the Cavs have trailed by 26 points (Miami at home), 31 points (76ers at home), 27 points (Knicks) and 27 again (Heat on Wednesday). Most of that damage has been done early in games.
17. Love was diplomatic when asked about a potential lineup change: "At this point we are getting off to such slow starts, that might need to happen. That's up to the coaching staff. I think it's just about finding different lineups that work overall."
18. Next up: The Cavs conclude this three-game trip with a visit to Dallas, another team that already beat them in Cleveland. Then they get to fly across the country and face Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Portland the next night at home. So ... it may not get any better anytime soon.