Preseason Recap: Cleveland 113, Boston 102 (or, Smith Memes and Smart Steams)

Missing Kev, Tristan, Hill, Korver, and David Nwaba, this game played out as a pleasant surprise to those of us who were still stinging from a Tribe playoff loss. That game that wrapped virtually as this game started, and the Cavs used early momentum, consistent attack, and a disengaged Celtics’ attitude to run out to as much as a 21 point lead as the starters dominated and the guys fighting for roster spots held on to a double digit lead to close out the Leprechauns.

First Quarter

The Sexton, Hood, Osman, Dekker, Nance lineup raced out to a 9-2 lead as the wine and gold D was decent and the clover O wasn’t. There were a couple nice buckets as Cleveland ran and caught Boston in mismatches leading to things like an easy turnaround by Nance over Tatum, another pure Sexton three-ball, and a nice delivery and finish from Collin to Larry.

Sexton had three quick jumpers score, and his J looks very accurate so far. The team was humming 18-10 when a J.R. triple swished and then the fireworks started. J.R. got arm-barred on a rebound by everyone’s least favorite Aussie, Aaron Baynes. Souper Mario responded with a two handed shove. Marcus Smart channeled his inner Conor McGregor to try to take on J.R. and half of his own teammates who were holding Marcus back. I’ll be honest. We all thought J.R. was gone and were shocked when the officials sent Smart to the showers, but not Swish. A grinning J.R. waived bye-bye to Smart as he headed out, inspiring yet another frantic surge of output from the internet meme machine, and a whole lot of post-game bs. It should be fun the next time these two play.

Despite the officials tightening up the game after, it got fun as J.R. canned a yolo right baseline iso-J, and Clarkson hit two yolo triples which were naturally unassisted. Semi Ojeleye canned a three in response causing Ty Lue to try to insert Kyle Korver for an answer, before Ty remembered that Korver wasn’t active for this one (I kid). Isaiah Taylor closed this one out by getting to the line for two and then grabbing the ball as Brad Wanamaker inexplicably coughed it up and racing for two more before Jaylen Brown and Jordan Clarkson traded clanks to make it a 28-21 quarter.

Second Quarter

After a couple Ike Taylor misses, a Zizic tip-in started off the scoring and was a harbinger of things to come before the starters subbed back in at the 10:44 mark. Cleveland pushed the pace and got to the rim or the line as they held off the Celts. Sexton canned another three before Sam Dekker absolutely broke Jason Tatum’s ankles on this sick crossover, to get a layup and kick off a 9-0 Cavalier run. The only concerning thing about this stretch was Nance’s inability to avoid racking up fouls as he picked up four in the first half.

The defense, at least around the basket was spirited as there were a lot of contests, and the Cavs fought for loose balls while the Celtics were playing at an, ahem, lower intensity. Sam Dekker even canned a left wing trey towards the end before Marcus Morris (the only Celtic that looked like he gave a crap) scored eight in the last three minutes to make the score (after the refs upgraded a Cedi J to a three-ball on halftime replay) 58-43, Cleveland.

Third Quarter

The starters rested while Taylor, Clarkson, Smith, Preston, and ZZ started the second half against the Celtic main-liners and acquitted themselves well. It started out with a nice p/r from Jordan to Ante which got the big guy an and1. Billy Preston made a three-ball, but he also threw up a good bit of garbage. He needs some seasoning, but you can see why his shooting and body excites the Cavs’ scouts. Ante Zizic kept pouring it on, and played like the biggest guy on the floor, dominating around the basket on offense. He ran the floor, too, which netted him this scintillating catch and dunk off a borderline Jordan Clarkson pass.

Mr. October, Jordan Clarkson, got aggressive with the drives, the shots and the dimes as he got himself to twelve points, and the Cavs kept the beantowners 16-20 points away for most of the quarter. Only Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris seemed engaged for Boston, as they both registered 17 before checking out.

Bonzie Colson and the old man, Channing Frye, subbed in and Channing got a nice applause from the crowd, which pleased him. Both did nice work on the boards and inside as they combined for 11 boards in 18 second half minutes.  Play got pretty ragged towards the end of the third, but Cleveland was in control as John Holland drove to put the Cavs up 89-69 to close the period.

Fourth Quarter

This was roster watch time as guys were battling to be the 15th man or get one of the Cavs’ two-way contracts. You’d have to say that this one didn’t belong to Kobi Simmons or Levi Randolph as they both appeared to be incredibly fast and athletic, but almost too fast, as they both showed an inability to slow it down when they got to the rack in transition and combined to go 3-11 from the floor, missing multiple layups.

John Holland, on the other hand, looked under control, dropping seven in 12 minutes on just three shots. Still, he didn’t show the defensive intensity that he probably needs to to make the squad. The consesus from the commentariat is that Holland is probably close to his ceiling: a competent end of the bench guy, but that’s probably all he’ll be. As an end-of-the-roster dude for a rebuilding team, he’ll probably lose his two-way to an up-and-coming player with more potential.

Guard Walter Lemon Jr. and the french Glen Davis, Guerschon Yabusele, dominated the action for the Celtics as they cut the lead to 12 before Ante Zizic and Isaiah Taylor came back in to stop the bleeding for Cleveland. Ante kept piling up the points against the shorter (but wider) Yabusele and Isaiah Taylor provided steady playmaking and timely scoring from the point guard spot to extend the lead back out to 18.

The Celtics replaced Yabusele with 27th pick, Robert Williams III, and Ante ate him up too, getting to 20 points on an and-1. Zizic was fouled by Marcus Georges-Hunt who had a nice game for the Celtics with seven points in 12 and a team leading +9 from the floor. After Zizic’s 20th, a flurry of bucket trading left the score 113-102, Cleveland.

Thoughts

After two games, you’d like to think that the of the three rosters spots available, the 15th, and the pair of two-ways, Preston is probably a lock for one of the two ways. He’s the exact kind of player you want in that spot: someone whose rights you control, who has upside, and who needs to play in the G-League. I fell in love with Bonzie Colson, as I counted three blocks and a natural nose for the ball and box-out position. The Draymond Green comparisons are not daft. Ben Werth agreed.

He has a natural instinct of for when to leave his primary assignment to challenge a shot. His length confused a lot of Celtics who thought he had no shot at the ball. Dray is still more athletic, but Colson is a better shooter. If he ends up being 70 percent of Green, that is already a HUGE lift for the team.

Colson’s offensive timing was off as he was 0-3 from the floor but he definitely looked like a game changer and played much bigger than his height. I’d like to see him get a legit shot at the backup four spot at some point this season, as I just don’t think Dekker is a long term solution there, and Bonzie could be really intriguing. As such, I’d lock Colson into that 15th spot.

As for the other two-way, I gotta give it to Isaiah Taylor, with a nod towards swapping he and Colson in the 15th/16th (two-way) spot depending on how the rest of the preseason shakes out. We don’t see these guys in practice, so we don’t know what having them around the roster every day will mean, but the Cavs need a legit third point guard (and I don’t mean Jordan Clarkson), and Taylor has played in the league for a couple years, and racked up almost 1200 minutes with Atlanta last year (who, admittedly, were trying to tank). Yes, he went 20-80 from downtown in 16-17, but he has a burst, an ability to get to the rim, and racked up 206 assists to just 84 turnovers last year. We’ll see what the future holds.

As for the rotation guys, I don’t think any of us could be more pleased. The team won the rebounding battle 51-44 and had eight guys with at least five boards. The offense revolved around dribble hand-offs, forcing transition, pick-and-rolls, and post-ups. It’s hard to gauge it too early, as Boston isn’t putting much defensive effort in, but it’s fun to watch the ball moving. It rarely sticks.

ZZ bounced back in a big way after a bad first game. Sexton is 4-5 so far this preseason from downtown and dropped 13 in 19 minutes. I think we’d all like to see him swap out some of those long twos for threes, though.

Chris K asked on the live thread about Sextons’ lack of assists: just two dimes in 42 minutes of play. But plenty of us, including myself were happy to defend him. I’m actually super pleased that Sexton isn’t a dime-hunting ball hog. He’s content to make a simple swing pass and run the offense: creating the initial action which often leads to a bucket, in addition, he’s swung it for the open three multiple times just to see guys miss, or gotten guys trips to the line (59 freebies for the Cavs in the first two games). Don’t be concerned about Sexton’s or the Cavs’ lack of assists.

As many people in the live thread also noted, this might be a team where there are a lot of guys with 2-4 assists per game instead of one guy racking them all up – bad for fantasy, good for basketball. The team’s most gifted passer might be Cedi who had another nice all-around night, as he went for 7/6/4 (p/r/a) in 18 minutes with zero turnovers. Yeah, he was just 1-5 from three, but he’s going to have to train himself to step into shots without hesitation. Work out the kinks in preseason, young Paduwan.

Rodney Hood? Got himself to the line a couple times but went 0-5 from the floor. e still had a decent floor game, getting on the boards and actually blocking a shot. Nance looked solid with 10/5/2 but is still foul prone. Some guys get a rep and just can’t shake it.

Jordan Clarkson added 12 on eight shots, plus five boards, and three dimes, but as Ben told me in an email, “Clarkson had four shots before he made a single pass. Seriously. I can’t stand him. The rest of the team has been YOLO fun. He has been YOLO misery.” After a feature by Chris Fedor in Cleveland.com yesterday, it’s clear Clarkson has made some life changes to improve his game. If he keeps shooting like this, we’ll live with him… begrudgingly.

The Cavs host Indy Monday for the last real preseason test before a scrub finale in Lansing against the Pistons on Friday. We’re just 10 days away from a regular season tipoff in Toronto. Until then, go Cavs.

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Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
14 days 19 hours ago

The Indians played some pretty uninspired ball all year long. Seems like teams have figured out how to pitch to Jose Ramirez, as he’s been a corpse in the second half. I would start Kluber in the #1 slot moving forward. He’s not the same dominant pitcher from 2016. Also, see ya later Miller and Allen!

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
14 days 19 hours ago

“Would not start Kluber…”

JRL
Guest
JRL
14 days 19 hours ago

Well what are you gonna do?

Thanks Nate once again for the tickets. I’m just ready for basketball lol.

Tito screwed up royally in ’16 and hasn’t had anything new to rely on. Who knows, maybe the owners spend money next season 🙄

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
14 days 20 hours ago

Feel like 2016 may have been the tribe’s best shot with this group. Miller, Allen, and Brantley may be gone this offseason. They also just don’t have a consistent enough lineup. Seems like they disappear every postseason, especially Ramirez. They also just don’t ever have or go out and spend like the big market teams do. Been a long time since the Indians were in the top 10 payrolls. Probably hasn’t been since the 90s. Even then, they still got outspent.

Their starters just haven’t been as good for the most part in the postseason since 2016. Who knows what is going on with Kluber? Maybe age. Supposedly his velocity was down this year. Still those 4 guys should be enough if the Indians went out and bought some more bats/a decent bullpen. Sigh, that won’t happen though. Well at least three straight years as AL central champs and a World Series trip is pretty good. No idea what will happen next year.

Raoul
Guest
Raoul
14 days 13 hours ago

Also 2017 if they had not screwed up the playoff roster.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
14 days 19 hours ago

Yeah I agree the bullpen was the story in this postseason collapse. I wonder how much Callaway made a difference? Not a huge fan of Carl Willis. I think they need to find new blood for that role.

Jason
Guest
Jason
14 days 19 hours ago

The bullpen collapsed this year. We had 6th-7th inning leads in 2 of the games. 2 years ago that was lights out.

Kluber has not been himself post-season the last two years. Still, he, Carrasco, Bauer, & Clevinger are too good to give up the ghost.

Try to rebuild the bullpen. Get a lefy starter. And try to collect more quality bats to surround Lindor, particularly in the OF. Preferably a leadoff hitter among them.

Ramirez has also been AWOL the last two years. EE is out vs good pitching. I would not tear it down, but we could use upgrades everywhere save SS, 2B, and 4 SP spots.

NOMAD
Guest
NOMAD
14 days 20 hours ago

OK SO —-GOOD SEASON TRIBE ———SO LET’S GO CAVS !!!

EvilGenius
Admin
14 days 20 hours ago

James Freaking Jones!!

JRL
Guest
JRL
14 days 19 hours ago

The Champ!

Jason
Guest
Jason
14 days 21 hours ago

Wow. No hitting & no pen.

9 runs in 2 innings.

Meanwhile, sad news out of SA. Murray with torn ACL. Chances they finish ahead of the Lakers just went down drastically.

EvilGenius
Admin
14 days 20 hours ago

SA needs to trade for George Hill like yesterday…

Jason
Guest
Jason
14 days 19 hours ago

My thinking exactly.

EvilGenius
Admin
14 days 21 hours ago

Waste of a terrific performance by Clevinger…

EvilGenius
Admin
14 days 21 hours ago

Simple fact… if you’re not going to hit the ball (outside of Lindor), you can’t give the reigning world champs six outs in an inning… Tribe killing themselves today as much as anything…

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
14 days 20 hours ago

They haven’t really been the same since the AS break. Ramirez is example numero uno of the slip. Brantley was hot and so was Gomes, but the rest of the team seemed never to put it together.

EvilGenius
Admin
14 days 21 hours ago

Meanwhile… this strike zone is terrible… and both the first and third base umps made terrible calls on what should have been check swings too far…

EvilGenius
Admin
14 days 21 hours ago

Is Tito just giving Miller and Allen a sort of pyrrhic Tribe curtain call? Where the HELL is Hand?

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
14 days 19 hours ago

Well I don’t see Miller or Allen back next year, so hopefully that solves that problem.

EvilGenius
Admin
14 days 21 hours ago

Bauer really effed this inning up…

EvilGenius
Admin
14 days 22 hours ago

JRL
Guest
JRL
14 days 22 hours ago

Thanks for the tickets Nate.
The seats are awesome.

Jason
Guest
Jason
15 days 4 hours ago

Is everyone a full go for tonight?

Saw Murray go down with a nasty looking knee injury for SA, though he walked off. This after Walker is out 6-8 weeks. Wonder if Pop’s fondness for George Hill nets us something.

Tom Pestak
Admin
15 days 5 hours ago

Mr. October Jordan Clarkson haha

CLF
Guest
CLF
15 days 12 hours ago

Nice recap Nate… pretty much captured my thoughts. Good observation about Cedi being possibly the best passer. Maybe KLOVE is only other guy that can compete with him on that level.

Also agreed about Isaiah Taylor making the team… I think it’s by necessity more than anything, but he’s played OK too.

Also, I’ve been on record as Colson fan… he’s wrecked my Blue Devils on more than one occasion over his years at ND. If he stays disciplined in a limited role on the offensive end as a spot up 3pt shooter and offensive rebound finisher, he could definitely be a positive force with upside.

They need to find another PG with Hill/Korver/JR contract dumps… then things will get exciting IMO from a future standpoint… although I’d like to keep Korver because his professionalism is such a good thing to have with a young team.

NOMAD
Guest
NOMAD
15 days 19 hours ago

someone please tell Hue —-DUKE JOHNSON NEEDS MORE TOUCHES !!

buck turgidson
Guest
buck turgidson
15 days 20 hours ago

as one who was expecting nothing but a slow-motion garbage truck-locomotive wreck in a perpetual loop.. i must say i am pleasantly surprised.. they appear to be watchable, and may even surprise some folks during the season, including me..

believeLAND
Guest
believeLAND
15 days 21 hours ago

LOL- the ball is “un-catchable” because he got leveled on the play!!!

John B
Guest
John B
15 days 20 hours ago

Browns probably have the talent to have been 4-1 with regards to the teams they have played. Coaching, reffing, and the FO ignoring special teams has cost them two a loss and tie. Some of the decisions and weird play calls
at crucial times by Haley and Williams baffle me. Then there is the kicking….

Jason
Guest
Jason
15 days 15 hours ago

Kicking game cost them 2 Ws and a bad call another.

John B
Guest
John B
15 days 14 hours ago

Yeah. Every game Haley and Williams have called weird plays in the redzone. Williams blitz crazy scheme has reaped rewards with the current personnel, but you shouldn’t call a 6 man blitz on 3rd and 12 or 14 within the browns 45 yard line. Just prevent good field goal range.

Same with Haley. Can’t remember what down, but there was a weird reverse or handoff on like 2ndor 3rd and goal. Haley has been way too cute with redzone plays for multiple games. Most of them have been completely blown up for losses.

John B
Guest
John B
15 days 20 hours ago

A loss and a tie.

NOMAD
Guest
NOMAD
16 days 2 minutes ago

so west coast do you also see (hoping ) we see the potential —“WISCONSIN DEKKER “—–again I might be overly optimistic on him—just liked his game when he was a “BADGER “—–think he also realizes that this is a “new ” place / start— but it is also “time to put up or shut up “

West coast cav
Guest
West coast cav
14 days 22 hours ago

Didn’t realize that Dekker has the handle that he does. Breaking Tatum’s ankles the other night with a sick crossover and a great finish was impressive. Everyone in the NBA is talented, so often the environment and situation is more of an influence on a player developing than the players talents. Olidipo is the perfect example of that. Not saying Dekker is going to be an all star, but who knows, he can definitely help the Cavs towards a winning season.

West coast cav
Guest
West coast cav
16 days 16 minutes ago

i feel like this Cavs team is filled with players on the verge of taking a big step. Cedi is going to be a steady NBA starter and could be an all star. Nance is poised to be more than just a bench guy bringing energy for 15 minutes a game. He too could become a starter with defensive presence and great passing and finishing ability. Hood and Clarkson are at a career divide. They either progress mentally, harness their talents and become the players they can be or wither away as players that squandered their abilities and bounce around the league or bounce out. Sexton is a force at 19. He will grow and be a baller. He is fearless and humble and full of joy for the game. Dekker could finally be in a place that fits, Preston is a lottery pick if he plays his freshman year… a lot of upside for this whole team.

JRL
Guest
JRL
15 days 23 hours ago

Yes to all of this and I’ll add Zz, if used correctly, will flourish off the bench and be 8pt/4rbs per 15min consistently. At which point Lue will need to decide if he should take TT off the rotation completely and then have Nance/Zz as his main C’s.

West coast cav
Guest
West coast cav
14 days 22 hours ago

Agreed, too many to name, and yes, ZZ is obviously developing a real offensive prowess. The game has moved away from big men in the paint, but looking at the way ZZ abused the Celtics maybe that changes.

daspec90
Guest
daspec90
16 days 28 minutes ago

Thanks for the recap, Nate. As someone who will be watching vicariously through CtB recaps this season, I appreciate all of your efforts!

NOMAD
Guest
NOMAD
16 days 58 minutes ago

agreed and why a “GOOD ” coach will coach to each players strength ………………..TO BE CONTINUED

Slammin Sam
Guest
Slammin Sam
16 days 1 hour ago

I think Clarkson actually fits in pretty well on the team as a bench scorer. He’ll never be efficient but he’s one of the only players on the team (maybe the only one until Sexton gets some seasoning) who can create a shot off the dribble.

CLF
Guest
CLF
15 days 12 hours ago

I agree… he’s now an off-ball chucker on a team that needs the shots to come from somewhere. This is his shot to parlay that either into some more money or a more competitive team/situation.

NOMAD
Guest
NOMAD
16 days 2 hours ago

good / accurate summary of the game ——agree with the ‘3 “—PRESTON / BONZI / TAYLOR ARE THE KEEPERS —-with PRESTON FOR SURE to canton to groom his skill level—–BONZI / TAYLOR —–toss up on who stays and who goes to canton ——BONZI is very intriguing ——call me blind / overly optimistic etc .—–still hoping that a change of scenery / opportunity will elevate DEKKERS game ——-if so he could be a HUGE plus —if not then it wasn’t that big of a gamble

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