Dribbles: Suddenly, Cavs getting hang of things again

Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton drives to the basket against the Rockets. - AP

Random dribbles on the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are coming off a nice 101-90 road win over the Houston Rockets.

1. Don’t look now, but the Cavs have won four straight. Don’t look now, but two of those have come on the road. And don’t look now, but the Cavs (14-21) are a mere 2.5 games back of the final playoff spot.

2. They are also four games back of the fourth playoff spot.

3. Go ahead and laugh. But those are the numbers.

4. All of this has happened without Kevin Love (what else is new?), Larry Nance Jr. and Taurean Prince. And oh yeah, without Andre Drummond.

5. You’d like to say this all is just a result of the schedule softening, with two games against the lowly Rockets — and that would indeed be a fair point. But let’s not forget, the Cavs beat the Philadelphia 76ers on the road in there. And the Sixers are the East’s best team at the moment.

6. That win made up for the ugly home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, an opponent the Cavs were supposed to beat. Even the Thunder probably thought they’d lose. But for the Cavs, winning at Philly overcame that.

7. So what’s the deal? Why are the Cavs playing so well now? Well, because they’re capable. It’s that simple. Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and even rookie Isaac Okoro have been growing, and Jarrett Allen is proving to be a great fit.

8. Part of it is just young teammates getting acclimated to one another. Most of it is this is just the way it always goes with relatively young teams. You just never know what you’re going to get.

9. Let’s also not forget that this is really the first full year of coach J.B. Bickerstaff. It takes a little bit for a team to adapt to its coach. Given the state of the world lately, the Cavs have had to sort of adjust to Bickerstaff on the fly. And he to them.

10. On the bright side, the players like and respect Bickertsaff. That may not sound like a big deal — but in the NBA, it’s everything.

11. We just saw what happened in Atlanta with Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce getting canned. Much of that decision was reportedly based on the players being frustrated with their coach. That was especially the case with Hawks star guard Trae Young. But the relationship between Bickerstaff and Sexton is solid at worst.

12. Sexton has scored at least 20 points in nine straight games since a film session with Bickerstaff, as reported by Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. That includes a 39-point eruption against John Wall and the Rockets on Tuesday.

13. Bickerstaff to Cleveland.com: “He has made a choice and he puts in the work. He has dove into the team and growing the team. He’s doing whatever it takes to help us win.”

14. That is true. And the more Sexton evolves from “scorer” to “winner,” the better off both Sexton and the Cavs will be in the long run. Obviously.

15. The Cavs still have one game left before the break — at home vs. the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday. After that, they are off until March 12.

16. The focus for general manager Koby Altman during the All-Star break will be to move Drummond in a trade. The Cavs have already spoken with several teams and are likely to ramp up those talks over the weekend. Ideally, Drummond will be somewhere else when the Cavs face the Pelicans. That’s the goal, anyway.

17. The Cavs will also again explore Love trades March 25 deadline. It would be a miracle if they can find a suitable partner, though.

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About the Author

Sam Amico
Sam Amico has covered the NBA on a full-time basis for OutKick, Sports Illustrated and FOX Sports, and has been a regular contributor to CBS Sports, the Boston Herald and NBA.com.

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