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Random dribbles on the Cavaliers’ 105-102 road loss to the Bulls on Saturday.
1. These games barely matter, but you still would like to see someone on the Cavs (other than LeBron James) play with at least some sense of urgency.
2. Instead, everyone not named LeBron seems content to let perimeter shots determine their fate. When the jumpers don’t fall, well, why bother to show any resolve or do the little things or play smart basketball? At least, that seems to be the thinking.
3. I have to keep writing, “It’s just the regular season; not a big deal.” But I’m tired of writing it and the readers are tired of reading it. So can we please just start the playoffs? At least then there will be no debate. Everything will be a big deal.
4. I know I’m rambling and probably not sounding real coherent. But this is what happens when the team you write about blows another big lead, looks bad in the fourth quarter, and fails to officially secure the top spot in the East – again.
5. The Bulls are basically toast. They have to win every game and hope the Pacers lose. They know the odds are against them. They were mostly out there playing for the fun of it. I’m not really sure what the Cavs were doing.
6. A couple of thoughts that might not be popular entering the final two games: First, I see no difference in the Cavs since the coaching change. They’re not better, they’re not worse. They’re the same. I guess that’s OK, but …
7. Second, what in the world is going on with Kyrie Irving? If you watch the Cavs, you know what I mean. Heck, if you’re Kyrie Irving, you know what I mean.
8. Irving to reporters on his play Saturday: “I was just real (lousy) with the basketball.”
9. That he was. That he has been. That is getting old.
10. Irving finished with 11 points on a clunky 5-of-17 from the floor. What has happened to his handle? What has happened to his shot?
11. He passed for eight assists, but also committed four turnovers — some in crucial moments. He’s dribbling way too much, not shooting nearly well enough and barely contributing (if at all) on defense.
12. Basically, it’s hard to tell if Irving is actually helping or hurting the team. I’m not trying to bash the guy. I never want to come off as overly harsh. But he doesn’t look the same. And the playoffs are a week away.
13. LeBron erupted for 33 points on 13-of-17 shooting. He was again remarkable. Kevin Love went for 20 and 13 rebounds. J.R. Smith scored 24 on 8-of-16 shooting, including 7-of-14 on 3-pointers. Tristan Thompson (eight boards) hustled his buns off yet again.
14. So what was the problem? Well, the bench stunk. So did the defense for long stretches. Matthew Dellavedova airballed a wide-open three with time winding down. Smith had one blocked at the final buzzer — although it appeared he was fouled.
15. But foul, no foul, whatever. Just put the game away when you have the chance. The Bulls were on basketball life support. The Cavs offered some basketball CPR.
16. Love was also again mostly ineffective after the first quarter. This is a trend that happened too much under David Blatt, and it’s happening too much under Tyronn Lue.
17. The Cavs (56-24) have two regular-season games left. Thank heavens. I don’t know how much more their poor fans can take. Nearly every game is an emotional roller-coaster.
18. What seed the Cavs finish with, who they play in the first round … it doesn’t really matter. The Cavs sure don’t seem to care. Otherwise, this would be settled already. The fact it isn’t can be downright maddening.
19. Their issues aren’t huge. They’re noticeable, but repairable. Still, LeBron couldn’t win a title by himself last season and he won’t be able to do it alone this year. The other Cavs had better realize that soon and then decide to do something about it.