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Two for one: Cavs have no answer for Zach LaVine, lose to Bulls 118-106

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Cleveland remains struggling.

Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Cavs are a better team than they were last year, surely. But this team also isn’t very good, particularly of late. With Saturday’s 118-106 loss to the Bulls, the Cavs have lost seven straight games. Funny how that happens, particularly after they beat a really good Nuggets team in their last win.

The Cavs had no answer for Zach LaVine

One week ago, Zach LaVine dropped 42 points on Cleveland in a 118-116 Chicago win. Tonight, he scored 44 points on 16-30 shooting to lead all scorers. Basically, for the second straight week, LaVine got whatever he wanted against the Cavs.

Notably, LaVine ate the Cavs up at the rim:

This says two things about the Cavs as currently constructed. First, it’s that Cleveland’s roster is lacking a wing that can deter wings like LaVine from driving to the rim and getting into the lane. That’s not a new concern, but it stands out more when they play someone like LaVine. Of note: He also was 7-8 from the line.

Second, the Cavs could benefit long term by finding a rim protecting big to offer support behind Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. John Henson is fine for now, but he’s likely going to be a Cav beyond this season. None of the bigs who will or might be — Larry Nance Jr., Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love — are true rim protectors, although Thompson is better than you might think. Cleveland doesn’t necessarily need Rudy Gobert, but they need better than what they have now.

Larry Nance Jr. continues playing well

Larry Nance Jr. has limits. He’s not exactly the Tristan Thompson-esque player some thought he was when the Cavs acquired him for the Lakers. He’s also been up and down for the Cavs, at times dropping passes or looking out of place on defense in ways that are frustrating.

But of late, since returning from a knee issue, Nance has been as good as he’s been this season. Saturday marked his third consecutive double-double off the bench and he looks more energetic than he did earlier in the year.

And to his credit, he’s also doing things like this now.

He’s a useful player and there’s a decent chance he looks better once the Cavs are overall better, even if that is not going to happen in the near future.

The Cavs are bad, which is good for one reason and one reason only

The Cavs aren’t really fun to watch right now. Seven losses in a row with only some of them being competitive. That’s not good if you want to watch the Cavs. But it does put the team in good position to have among for the top-four best odds for a draft pick come June. Changes in lottery odds maybe make that less important than before, but it’s something!

Up next

The Cavs play on Monday against the Pistons in Detroit. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.