Dribbles: Clearing up some of the Cavs’ pressing questions
Random dribbles on the Cavaliers, now the sole owners of the East’s No. 3 seed and mere percentage points back for No. 2 (entering Sunday):
1. It was pretty evident following Saturday’s 89-79 win over the Suns that this team is pooped. The Cavs led by 32 points in the third quarter, but the reserves allowed the Suns to cut it to 84-74. These are things that can happen when you play four games in five nights.
2. It’s true that the Cavs are on the road all week, but at least their games are spaced out a little — at Dallas on Tuesday, at San Antonio on Thursday, and at Orlando on Sunday. So the travel will come with an opportunity to get some rest. Then again, the Cavs play at Miami the night after the Magic game.
3. OK, everyone wants to know what is going on with starting center Timofey Mozgov, and why he’s not playing in fourth quarters. I am among those people. Apparently, so is head coach David Blatt. Following the Suns game, Blatt asked, "He played in the fourth quarter, didn’t he?"
4. When told that Mozgov did not play, Blatt responded: "It seemed like he did because it seemed like he did everything. I really wanted to get (Kendrick Perkins) some minutes and that was the reason."
5. Mozgov has not played in a fourth quarter in five straight games. But the Cavs have won four of them, so …
6. In fact, since a 19-20 start, the Cavs (40-25) have won 21 of 26. They’ve won 40 for the first time since 2009-10. They may not always look great, but they are winning and usually look pretty doggone good. I don’t know if the NBA has a truly dominant team — a la the Heat of the previous four years. The Cavs have just as good of a shot as anyone. So it’s tough to complain about the coach.
7. That said, it was good to see Perkins get some minutes. He’s clearly still trying to find his way out there. All he really needs to do is stand near the basket and rough up opposing backup centers for a few minutes a night. The Cavs will likely need that in the playoffs.
8. As for Blatt, like I said, I’m not complaining. But his rotation has been fairly bizarre all season. Kyrie Irving didn’t play for the majority of the first half Saturday. He did pick up two early fouls, but Blatt said Irving was on the bench because Matthew Dellavedova was playing great. I don’t buy that. Not that it matters, but it’s my opinion that Blatt puts guys on the bench and forgets about them. Again, not a complaint. Just a random observation that should be viewed as one.
9. The other thing fans seem to be dying to know: Why did LeBron James ditch the headband in the second quarter? "It just happened," he said. "I just took it off."
10. It seemed to take most observers a good five minutes to recognize a headband-less LeBron.
11. Blatt on headband-gate: "Personally, I’ve never been a headband guy. But I’m so old-school, there’s a lot of great, great players that wear headbands. That’s fine. I’ve also never been one to say you can’t wear it. But he’s had a pretty good career wearing a headband, so I think we’ll let him decide when and where not to wear it."
12. Former NBA coach Scott Skiles refused to let his players wear headbands. When Skiles was coach of the Bulls, he noticed center Ben Wallace checked in the game wearing a headband. Skiles immediately took out Wallace. When the headband was removed, Wallace checked back in. Then came the second half, and Wallace wore the headband again. The process kept repeating itself.
13. Personally, I don’t see the big deal. Guys just want to keep sweat out of their eyes. Guess coaches sometimes get irritated with the whole "fashion statement" aspect of it. All I know is I’ve just written 200 words (and counting) on headbands. Clearly, things are going quite well for the Cavs ON the floor.
14. Now on to another pressing question: What is former Cavs guard Damon Jones’ role on the team? It’s a good question, because Jones is always hanging around and smiling and just generally having fun.
15. Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal answered it this way in his Sunday mailbag: "Jones is a ‘shooting consultant’ with the Cavs, which is a fancy way of saying he’s hanging out with LeBron."
16. Lloyd nailed it. And in case you’re wondering, I occasionally quote Lloyd in my columns because (and I’m not joking about this) he’s my son’s favorite NBA writer.
17. Finally, wanted to touch on the interview Mavericks point guard Rajon Rondo gave to Yahoo Sports, posted Sunday. Rondo was obtained by the Mavs in a trade with the Celtics earlier this season. He also had a verbal spat with Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, which resulted in a one-game suspension for Rondo. But Rondo, a free agent at the end of the season, said he won’t let that deter him from re-signing with Dallas.
18. This whole thing is laughable to me because Rondo has made very little difference (if any) in the Mavs actually winning games. Don’t get me wrong — he’s a nice piece, a veteran with a championship ring. But he just turned 29 years old, underwent a major knee surgery last year, and his best days are behind him.
19. Yet Rondo is touting himself (via his agent’s tools in the media) as a major factor in the years ahead. Great publicity, for sure. But truth is, Rondo is approaching 30 with a so-so knee. Throw in his occasional issues with coaches, and I’d be very careful when it comes to getting excited about him in free agency. Long-ago Cavs general manager Wayne Embry was always very leery of little 30-something guards, especially those who suffered a major injury to their leg. Soon, that will be Rondo. But that wasn’t mentioned in the story.