Dribbles: Cavs put on show and still have something to show for it

Collin Sexton and the Cavaliers put up a valiant fight, but eventually succumbed to D'Angelo Russell and the Nets.

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ thriller of a 148-139 home loss to the Brooklyn Nets in TRIPLE overtime Wednesday.

1. For both the Cavs and Nets, it was the most-exciting game of the season. For the Cavs, it was also a best-case scenario. They gave the fans their money’s worth … and lost. When you’re a team in a tank mode, that truly is what you’re looking for.

2. As dedicated reader Chip Munn emailed, “Tonight’s Cavs vs. Nets game was fun to watch with three extra sessions. But count me in the camp who wanted the Cavs to lose and for them to lose every game for the remainder of the year except March 26, 2019.”

3. What’s March 26? I don’t even need to look it up. That’s when the Cavs host Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics. Clearly, old Eastern Conference rivalries die hard.

4. The player of the game was All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell (36 points, eight assists, several big shots), but only because his Nets won. Otherwise, the honor would go to Cavs guard Jordan Clarkson. All he did was erupt for 42 points and eight rebounds off the bench.

5. I admit, I rarely mention Clarkson in my constant lists of potential Cavs beyond this season. But that’s not by design. Collin Sexton is on that list. So is Cedi Osman, as are Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson. Clarkson undoubtedly belongs, too.

6. Before you get all worked up, know that those are the names I think the Cavs are likely to keep. For one, it will be hard to move any of them and get equal (or better) value return. For two, SOMEONE has to be back on the team next year. It may as well be the young guys with the biggest upside and the best veterans.

7. I suspect anywhere from six to eight players on this team will return for 2019-20. Here’s my best wild guess of who will be back: Love, Thompson, Sexton, Clarkson, Osman, Larry Nance Jr. and Matthew Dellavedova. New guard Brandon Knight, center Ante Zizic and injured forward John Henson will all have a chance — as all are under contract.

8. Others, such as forward Marquese Chriss and guard David Nwaba, will also have a shot. But both have expiring contracts. Chriss has been active and looked good so far, and Nwaba has been a pleasant surprise defensively. But those two, along with wing Nik Stauskas, are TBD. The next two months, and what the Cavs are able to do in the offseason, will be the deciding factors.

9. Back to the game. Sexton finished with 24 points — and has now scored at least 20 in four of the last five. He clearly hit a rookie wall a few weeks back, but it appears he may be pushing his way through.

10. I’m willing to give Sexton at least until the end of next season before making any hard-line determination on his future. Last thing the Cavs want to do is give up on a young player too soon. He’s already proven that, at worst, he can be a serviceable scorer. I think he’ll eventually be more than that.

11. Chriss added 23 points and seven rebounds in an excellent all-around showing. He and the Cavs may be a perfect fit. They need another good young big man and Chriss needs a place to give him a real opportunity.

12. Cavs coach Larry Drew admitted he wasn’t all that familiar with Chriss before Chriss came to Cleveland last week.¬†“Marquese is a talent,” Drew said after watching Chris throw down a massive jam and two consecutive 3-pointers in the overtimes.

13. Also, Nance continued his tear on the boards, collecting 14 one game after grabbing 16. He is averaging 12.0 points and 14.2 rebounds in his last five appearances,

14. Nance, Chriss and Zizic all fouled out, forcing Drew to use a four-guard lineup to close the game. “I definitely ran out of bodies,” Drew said. “I had no intention of having four smalls out there against that team.”

15. Former Cavs swingman Joe Harris added 25 points for the Nets (30-29). DeMarre Carroll scored 18, including a three at the buzzer of the second OT. The Nets are good model for the Cavs to follow when it comes to rebuilding the team.

16. Believe it or not, the Cavs once played a FOUR-overtime game. That happened on Jan. 29, 1980, when they edged Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Los Angeles Lakers by a 154-153 count. Current Cavs television analyst Austin Carr played 12 minutes that night … and went 0-of-8 from the floor. (I wondered why AC didn’t talk about that night more on the air. Now we know. ) Cavs radio analyst Jim Chones started at center for the Lakers, scoring 12 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Here’s the full box score.

17. The Cavs (12-46) are off for the All-Star break and don’t play again until next Thursday at home. Their opponent? The Phoenix Suns (11-47), who are also very much in the running for the No. 1 overall draft pick. Maybe we can get five OTs in that one.

4 Comments on "Dribbles: Cavs put on show and still have something to show for it"

  1. I think Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight can prove to be really astute pick ups for the Cavs. I really like them both on this roster and their fit. Chriss in particular just needs a team to believe in him I think. Stauskus too can be a good piece if he can find his 3pt stroke.

  2. Thanks for nugget #17. I remember listening to that game on the radio. That Cavs line-up had a lot of “characters” on it as I’m sure AC would agree. I met Jim Chones about 6 years ago. His hands were about the size of my chest!

  3. Tanking teams should be fined for taking a game to overtime!

    I said it from the beginning that the Cavs were gonna tank hard (well, not as hard as the Knicks are doing it, may be). But, let’s look forward to the next year.
    Other than for Chriss and Nwaba (and JR might be kicked out), the rest of the team should be intact. Who knows – Nwaba and Chriss, too, might be signed to a contract over the summer! And, then there should be a potential all-star pick (and another solid rookie – since the Cavs have 2 first round picks). So, theoretically, the re-build should be short. Next year the Cavs should go to the play-offs.

  4. Philip Rusch | February 14, 2019 at 9:42 am |

    ESPN pulled this game from the national broadcast schedule in favor of Bucks vs Pacers. They lucked out in that at least Giannis and his triple double gave them something to talk about. But in terms of drama, they blew it.

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