MILWAUKEE: Final thoughts from a bad loss against a bad Bucks team…
* C.J. Miles said he wanted to kick the chair as he came off the court. He was inches away from making this a Cavs win, but he looked at the ball instead of Caron Butler.
* O.J. Mayo missed a short jumper with 24 seconds left and the Cavs leading 104-103. Miles was in position to grab the rebound, but he looked up at the ball before boxing out Butler. It was only a split second, but by the time he went to find Butler to box him out, it was too late. He was by Miles and tipping in what would be the game-winning shot. Miles was still angry with himself 20 minutes after the game had ended. “That’s on me,” he said. “It was right on the tip of my fingers. I have to find him before I go get the ball.”
* The Cavs didn’t lose this game because Miles failed to box out Butler, nor did they lose it because Irving missed on both of his offensive opportunities late. The Cavs lost the game because the Bucks were shooting 53 percent until the game’s final 4:43, when they finally started defending and held the Bucks to 2 of 9 shooting before Butler’s final tip-in..
* This was the seventh time since 2000 and 16th time in team history the Bucks shot at least 50 percent for a game, at least 50 percent from 3-point range and at least 90 percent at the free-throw line.
* Mike Brown didn’t have any more answers after the game than Byron Scott often had last season. Youth can only be an excuse for so long. The Cavs have guys on the second unit that know how to win (Andrew Bynum, Jarrett Jack), but they need someone (and likely more than one) to stand up and start defending properly on the road at the start of games. Everyone keeps saying all the right things, but it’s not happening yet on the court.
* The Bucks shot 58 percent in the first quarter. The Bobcats shot 57 percent in the first quarter last week. The Cavs are significantly better than both of those teams. Those are two road games the Cavs should win. Instead, they lost both in the final seconds when 3-pointers bounced out.
* Irving is dealing with a little adversity right now offensively, which isn’t a bad thing. He rarely seemed to miss game-winning shots the last couple of years, but it’s obviously going to happen sooner or later. He started out blistering hot Wednesday, making 4 of his first 5 shots. He ended 10 of 20, and that includes a hot stretch when he hit four consecutive shots during the fourth-quarter rally.
* The most uncharacteristic part of his night was dribbling the ball off his foot while driving for a go-ahead basket. Still, he only had two turnovers after a whopping nine turnovers against the Timberwolves.
* Brown spoke to Irving over the summer about his assist-to-turnover ratio. Chris Paul led the league last season at 4.26. If Irving wants to be the best in the league, Brown told him, strive for a figure similar to that.
* As a result, Irving’s assists are soaring. He had eight more against the Bucks and is averaging seven per game. But that nine turnover game has skewed his ratio to a meager 2.06. Without that game against the Timberwolves, his ratio would be sensational.
* Anthony Bennett finally made his first NBA basket, and of course it was a 3-pointer. Bennett’s basket came with 9:42 left in the second quarter, and for a moment I thought they should call a timeout and roll the ball out of play like Major League Baseball does for a rookie’s first hit. That basket was a long time coming.
* Bennett missed the first 18 shots of his career before that basket. He avoided tying Joel Anthony for the longest drought without a field goal to begin an NBA career (five games), but he’s now 1-of-20 shooting this season (1-of-11 on 3-pointers).
* I didn’t think Dion Waiters defended all that well (nobody did), but he seems to be finding a little groove offensively. He played well at Indiana over the weekend, then Brown benched him for the fourth quarter against the Timberwolves, presumably because he was struggling offensively and couldn’t stop Kevin Martin.
* Waiters was in full attack mode against the Bucks. He shot 7 of 13, and three of his six misses were 3-pointers. Waiters is at his best when he’s going to the rim. That needs to continue.
* The bigs, specifically Tristan Thompson, carried the Cavs through the first few games while the guards struggled. Both Irving and Waiters had big offensive nights while Thompson finished with just five points and seven rebounds.
* Fans have been asking a lot about Sergey Karasev and there are those within the organization anxious to see what he can do, too. But everyone is in agreement to let this play out the right way with the veterans getting the bulk of the minutes for now.
* There seems to be total agreement right now that Karasev is a shooting guard until he gets bigger, so forget about him eventually solving the small forward dilemma. That’s probably not happening this season. But the Cavs are excited about Karasev’s future and are optimistic they may have found something with him. It just may be a little while before we see it.
* The Cavs have a bad habit of playing to the level of the opponent. The Nets on opening night? No problem. Pacers? Great energy. Even Kevin Love and the Timberwolves had their full attention. But they see a mediocre-at-best Bobcats team and a Bucks team without three starters and the effort level drops dramatically.
* Andrew Bynum sort of winced following a dunk in the first half, sending Twitter into a tizzy and even drawing replays on the Cavaliers telecast. There was a fear Bynum tweaked one of his achy knees, but he returned for the second half as normal.
* Bynum told me he tweaked his back going up for a block Monday against the Timberwolves, but it was nothing serious.
* This is the way it’s going to be with Bynum all season. Every time he jumps and lands, every grimace, wince and grunt will be dissected. So far, however, so good.
* Bynum didn’t look as good tonight as he has in some previous games. He seems to be getting a lot of his shots blocked. I’m wondering if that goes back to the lack of explosiveness he talked about on Monday. Andray Blatche and Ekpe Udoh shouldn’t be blocking his shots as easily as they are.
* In case you missed it, Bynum said he will play in Friday’s game at Philadelphia. He’ll have to deal with the Philly media first, either Thursday after practice or Friday morning during shootaround. That should be interesting.
* Brown may wear these guys out at practice on Friday. He kept them for more than three hours Monday during shootaround and they responded with a terrific effort against the Timberwolves. He tried to reward them with a normal shootaround Wednesday and they came out flat against the Bucks. That could make for a long practice Thursday and another extended shootaround on Friday.