Dribbles: Still too early to fret over Cavs' loss
Random dribbles on the Cavaliers' 89-83 defeat to the host Warriors on Friday.
1. Let's be honest, neither team exemplified what you'd expect to see from world champions. No one will admit it, but perhaps both groups were a little tight. And you know what? That's OK. It truly was the first "big game" of the regular season for everyone involved.
2. Despite the buzz, there's really not much to take away from this one. I mean, the Wizards played better vs. the Cavs than the Warriors -- as the Wizards never trailed in handing the Cavs their lone home loss a few weeks back. Does that mean the Wizards are better than the Warriors? Um, no. But it does mean, again, we shouldn't read too much into anything right now.
3. LeBron James was fairly upbeat after the game and I can't say I blame him. The Cavs became the first opponent to hold the Warriors to less than 90 points at home since 2013. That's not to say they should be excited about losing – but they slowed a team that prides itself on not getting slowed, and gave themselves a shot to win on the road.
4. Then again, when it came to shots, the Cavs (19-8) couldn't make a one. At least, not a meaningful one. Not much of any one, for that matter. They finished a miserable 31 percent from the floor, including less than 17 percent on 3-pointers. Basically, when the Cavs lined up to shoot, the rim cringed with fear. The Warriors had something to do with that, no doubt. The Cavs had something to do with it, too.
5. Kevin Love went 5-of-16 and 0-of-5 on threes. For Kyrie Irving, it was 4-of-15 and 0-of-6. Even LeBron struggled mightily -- by shooting 10-of-26 and 1-of-5 from beyond the arc. He also missed a couple of big free throws near the end.
6. Love on the misses: "It's one of those nights. I don't know if you'll ever see Kyrie and myself go 0-of-11 from three again."
7. It's too bad, because the Cavs did an excellent job defensively. On top of limiting the Warriors to less than 100 at home for the first time in 48 regular-season games, the Cavs held Warriors guard Steph Curry to 19 points. Curry entered the game as the NBA's leading scorer, erupting for an incredible 31 points a night.
8. Anyway, as LeBron said: "We play like that defensively, we're going to be a very tough team to beat."
9. James finished with 25 points and nine rebounds, but had just two assists. Love went for 10 points and 18 boards. Irving finished with 13 points. J.R.Smith, who actually shot the ball well, scored 14. And Matthew Dellavedova had a solid game off the bench with 10 points and five rebounds.
10. Still, it's pretty evident that coach David Blatt's club is a little out of sync following the returns of Irving and Iman Shumpert (scoreless on 0-of-6 shooting). That's completely understandable.
11. LeBron on the state of things: "It's an adjustment period. It's not going to just happen -- you plug a guy in here, plug two guys in there, and it automatically happens. It's going to be an adjustment period. But we'll be fine. We'll be fine toward February and March."
12. This isn't intended to downplay the Warriors. They're 28-1 and that's flat-out remarkable, no matter how you try to spin it. They certainly didn't play their best here, either. But I predicted the Cavs would lose, and I predict the Warriors will lose when they come to Cleveland on Jan. 18. And guess what? It still won't be a big deal.
13. My point? Well, LeBron is right. We're not even at the midpoint of the season. The Cavs are clearly still finding their way. That's not to say they'll be the best team in the league when they do. But I bet they'll be a whole lot better than they were Friday.
14. One thing's for sure: They have to find a way to get Timofey Mozgov going on a much more regular basis. He hurt his team vs. the Warriors -- and not just because he failed to score (0-of-5 shooting). He wasn't aggressive, he wasn't intimidating and he made too many silly mistakes on both ends. Mozgov is an important piece and the Cavs believe in him. But his confidence seems shaky right now. The Cavs need for that to change.
15. Final word from Kyrie: "We had different lineups that we're not used to yet. It's going to take us some time before we start clicking on all cylinders. When we do, I mean … it's going to be scary."