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Random dribbles following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 106-95 loss to the visiting Toronto Raptors on Sunday.
1. The Cavs have been good for a half this season. After that, it’s time to see what’s on Netflix.
2. The last two opponents were the last two teams the Cavs beat out of the playoffs during the fourth of their four straight runs to the Finals — the Boston Celtics (Friday) and the Raptors. Those two teams are still in contention. The Cavs are dreaming of Zion Williamson. Sometimes, that’s gotta hurt.
3. It’s hard to believe this is the product LeBron James left behind. I honestly thought the Cavs would be better. I thought a veteran team that featured Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, George Hill, J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver, with some nice young talent (Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman) and solid players off the bench (Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr.) could be around a .500 team.
4. Now, Smith and Korver are gone. Hill just returned from an injury and hasn’t been all that impressive when healthy. Love, of course, is missing an extended period of time … again. Thompson and Clarkson may be better than ever and Sexton looks like a keeper. Other than that, well, there’s a reason the Cavs are 4-18.
5. Honestly, it’s hard to know where the Cavs go from here. I’m not sure they know. It may even be too early to come up with a real plan, I don’t know.
6. I think Larry Drew is a good coach and deserves a shot with this team going forward. He truly is making the most of the hand he’s been dealt. The Cavs are just outclassed most nights. In fact, I can’t think of a night when they wouldn’t be. Drew at least has them playing hard.
7. That said, I strongly doubt Drew is the coach of the team next season. That’s just the way this business works. The Cavs will undoubtedly look at the offseason (and highly likely, the weeks leading up to the trading deadline) as one of great change.
8. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert will try to make a splash to get fans back in the seats and tuning in on TV. The Cavs will want a young team that’s full of promise next season and a more well-known coach. I’ve been covering this league long enough to know that interim men rarely get a fair shake.
9. But Gilbert, general manager Koby Altman and the basketball staff should consider the job being done by J.B. Bickerstaff in Memphis. Bickerstaff finished last season as the interim coach of a Grizzlies team that was miserable. But the Grizzlies hired Bickerstaff as the full-time guy, anyway. They received some good fortune (the return of Mike Conley Jr.) and have turned things around.
10. This isn’t my way of insisting Drew is the right coach moving forward. It’s just my way of saying it’s too soon to determine that he’s not.
11. As for the game, it was just another one of those nights in which you knew the Cavs didn’t have a real shot — regardless of how close they came. Kawhi Leonard (34 points, nine rebounds) and the Raptors are just in a different league this season. Sometimes, you watch the really good teams, and then the Cavs, and it looks like the really good teams are playing a different sport.
12. This isn’t intended to trash the Cavs. Despite the injuries and a few moments of chaos, they do at least play hard. They are much more determined than the 2010-11 team, which sort of mailed it in after LeBron left the first time.
13. Thompson had an excellent game with 18 points and 19 boards. I have not been more impressed with any member of the team this year. And that’s saying a lot, because I was entirely unimpressed with Thompson for the entire regular season last year.
14. Clarkson added 18 points, and Alec Burks and Rodney Hood had 13 apiece. I also strongly doubt both Burks and Hood are here after the February trade deadline. One or both will be gone. So this is truly a two-month audition for each player.
15. Someone at church recently asked me to guess how many players from this year’s team will be on the roster next season. Off the top of my head, I answered six. But the Cavs have played just 22 games. There are still 60 to go. Ask me again in 20.