Dribbles: Well, it’s official, Cavaliers are a mess

Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen battles for a rebound vs. Thunder big man Al Horford. - AP

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ embarrassment of a 117-101 home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.

1. You know that GIF with the burning dumpster fire floating helplessly along in water? Yeah, that’s where your Cavaliers are today.

2. This isn’t just about the Cavs missing Larry Nance Jr., Kevin Love and Andre Drummond. This is something deeper, and it goes right to the heart of the organization.

3. In short, ladies and gentlemen, the Cavs officially stink.

4. You can talk about the young guards, how Collin Sexton and Darius Garland are still finding their way. You can talk about the injuries, or about how that first game back from a long road trip always gets you. You can make every excuse possible, and a few of them may even be legit.

5. But you don’t get run out of your own gym by the Thunder unless something is terribly awry.

6. Sexton (27 points, five rebounds) keeps putting up decent numbers — but are they winning numbers? Garland had a nice line with 21 points and eight assists — but it clearly made no difference. Isaac Okoro is at least shooting more — but doing little else worth mentioning.

7. And you know what? Those three do deserve a pass. They are still awfully inexperienced. But this is also the big leagues, fellas. If you need more time to develop, well, that’s why the G League was invented.

8. You can’t really even blame the players. The front office has put together a roster than may or may not have a single foundational piece.

9. We keep hearing buzzwords like “rebuild” and “growth.” But what are the Cavs building here and how are they growing? It’s more like constantly tearing it down and taking steps back.

10. And if you are going to blame the players, at least place most of your blame on the bench. It scored a whopping nine points. And if you’re going to blame the bench, you can again turn to the front office. Injuries be darned, the bottom line is this is a team without a shred of depth.

11. Other than all that, the Cavs’ 10-game losing streak is nothing with which to concern yourself.

12. Seriously, though. If you’re trying to win games, like you say you are, how do you just decide to sit your starting center? You don’t think a half-hearted Drummond is better than Dean Wade?

13. And where is Love? Did he strain his calf, or have it entirely removed?

14. The Cavs justify some of their decisions by saying it’s all about “the culture.” Well, since they’ve benched Drummond and traded Kevin Porter Jr., things have only gotten worse.

15. Now, we do have to give some credit to Jarrett Allen. Drummond’s replacement finished with 26 points, 17 rebounds and 11-of-11 shooting. He played his heart out at both ends. He’s a keeper.

16. Of course, let’s not forget Allen will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. The Cavs can match any offer he might receive. But with the way things are going, Allen may beg his way out.

17. Basically, the Cavs (10-21) are way down in the dumps after what was truly an inspiring start. Yet they can still go lower. It’s a long season. They just have to make the decision to pull it together, find some resolve, and decide to start looking like a professional outlet again.

18. It’s still a mystery if they actually have any of that in them. Sometimes, they look like they’ve just given up.

19. Let’s just avoid talking about the defense altogether. Other than perhaps to say nobody outside of Allen is any good at it. Okoro was supposed to be. He was supposed to “make an immediate impact defensively.” He was supposed to “check all the boxes.” Yeah, OK.

20. None of that is Okoro’s fault, by the way. He does have promise and obviously deserves way more time. But he sure ain’t ready today.

21. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff is starting to take some heat, at least from the fans. It’s hard to pin this on him, though. If the roster were put together properly and management showed some stability and a strong desire to win, then Bickerstaff would share a large part of the blame. Right now, he just has very little with which to work. In fact, it seems like everyone is working against him.

22. This loss hardly determines the season. There are still 41 more to go. People can get healthy, corrections can be executed, Drummond can be traded and reinforcements can be found.

23. But all you can do is go by what you’ve seen lately, and when it comes to the Cavs today, it’s probably better to just not watch.

About the Author

Sam Amico
Sam Amico is the founder and senior writer of FortyEight Minutes. He 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.

4 Comments on "Dribbles: Well, it’s official, Cavaliers are a mess"

  1. The Cavs roster is lacking TALENT. They should have KEPT Kevin Porter Jr. He should be playing. Basketball keeps him preoccupied from getting into trouble. The Cavs should play Allen, Love (when healthy), Osman, Porter, and Garland.

    Sexton, Dotson, Okoro, Nance, and McGee should come off the bench. If Okoro cannot contribute on offense, the the Cavs should use Prince. Windler has no business playing defense on an NBA court.

    And for goodness sake, draft players who can shoot.

  2. Taking My Talents | February 22, 2021 at 9:24 am | Reply

    Amen to the real talk. I could be wrong, but I think Okoro was a better player on game 1 of the season, and has steadily not progressed, maybe even gotten worse. Whatever the specifics, It feel like this coaching staff’s actions do not positively affect the confidence of these players. Maybe they don’t believe in what’s being taught, or maybe what’s being taught is simply wrong in today’s NBA. The positive outcome is not there.

    Your comment on Allen is the ultimate truth. What was my frustration at the Cavs earlier this season for how everything is handled has turned into personal relief for the players that get to leave this situation. I’m now looking forward to a Drummond trade, for Andre Drummond.

  3. Okoro should not be starting. He should be coming off the bench. Let Windler start. He is a 4 years college player that knows how to play. He also knows how to shoot if he is in the game more than 5 consecutive minutes. Lamar Stevens is also a 4 year college player. He does not get enough minutes either. Cede needs to come off the bench too. He seems to play better then. Bickerstaff is trying to force these guys to play the right way instead of sitting them when they don’t. The bench cannot be productive when they play all of 5-6 minutes. Seems to me that the same comments where made about coach Beilein. Teaching something the NBA does not do. Players are supposed to do what the coach teaches. Too many guys come out of college at 19 and they don’t know how to play the true game of basketball. Don’t know how to shoot or box out. Why are NBA coaches teaching guys how to shoot? Play the guys that already know how to do those things until the 19-20 year olds figure it out.

  4. Right as always Sam. I like Allen and Nance. Ultimately they don’t have a primary ball handler and starting Sexland means very little guard defense. We don’t have a foundation piece at all. Need to get lucky in draft and find a star, need to take some lessons from Indiana management.

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