Random dribbles on the Cavaliers as they pay a visit to the Pacers …
1. It’s time for the Cavs to turn it up a notch on the road, and this would be the place to do it. The Pacers are no joke. They were supposed to be, but they’ve been far from it.
2. Anyone who remembers how the Cavs had to scratch and claw to get past Indy in Cleveland can attest to that.
3. Overall, the Cavs’ six-game homestand was a little disappointing. They finished 4-2, losing the last two. They were hoping to go 6-0 or 5-1, and felt either was realistic. Losing to the Raptors was bad, but it could’ve been salvageable with a win over the Nets. The Cavs lost that, too.
4. It’s not the end of the world for this team, of course. But with most of the key players healthy, this is the time to strike. Every game matters in the Eastern Conference. It seems as if the playoffs have already started. Playoff positioning sure is. And I’ll like the Cavs’ odds of winning a series a lot more if they have home-court advantage in the first round.
5. Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland need more consistent help. That is what I think when the Cas lose. Evan Mobley has been inconsistent, and as I always say, that’s OK. He’s a second-year player and opponents have scouted him and adjusted since those first three months last year, when he looked like The Next Kevin Garnett.
6. But for the Cavs to become a true threat in the East, they will need Mobley — or somebody — to be a true, blue reliable No. 3. Mobley is close. He’s not there.
7. Am I making too much of a Cavs-Pacers game in December? It sort of feels like the answer is maybe. But these are the type of nights you look back on in April and realize they mattered.
8. If you remember, Mitchell talked a little trash to the Pacers’ bench during the game in Cleveland. He was responding to the Pacers talking trash all game. But you can be sure they will hold it against him, anyway. So this one could be intense.
9. Anyway, the Cavs really need someone to step up besides just Garland and Mitchell on offense. Jarrett Allen is fantastic and the Cavs are set at center for years to come. He is always a factor. But we all know what he does, and most of his shine is on the defensive end. Maybe Caris LeVert or Isaac Okoro can get going. Overall, it’s been a disappointing season for both.
10. All of that said, the Cavs are about where most suspected they would be record-wise. They are a fun team to watch and in the mix. I tried to warn people who thought that the Mitchell trade would put them over the top that the East is very, very good. I tried to warn people to watch out if the Nets get their act together.
11. The Cavs aren’t yet on the level of the Celtics, Bucks or Nets. They match up terribly with the Raptors. There is still work to be done here. I think they are in the market for more perimeter shooting. They also need a backup center. Until any of that, though, they will need a little more consistency from the guys not named Mitchell or Garland.
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