The Cavs lost to the Wizards at home last night, 99-95. The Cavs kept it tight all game, and even had the lead after the half. I don’t think it’s that important (at all) that we lost. Given the proclivity for coaches to play rookies and bench warmers big minutes, preseason games can hardly be a legitimate indicator of regular season performance. However, preseason is the first time we get to see the Cavs play, and it’s definitely a showcase for players to impress and prove themselves.
From the get-go, Tristan Thompson was the most impressive player on the floor. He was aggressive on both ends of the floor, putting up 18 points, 10 rebounds (8 offensive!), 4 blocks, and shooting 6-7 from the free throw line. He was insanely active on the offensive boards, overpowering or over-jumping the Wizard boxing him out time and time again. Of course, that probably has something to do with the fact that the frontcourt he was going up against consisted of Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin and Shavlik Randolph. But, hey- 8 offensive rebounds is impressive regardless. By the way, I checked it out and Shavlik Randolph, does, in fact, appear to be a real person.
Kyrie’s jumper was off all night, as it has been for most of the preseason so far, but he partially made up for it with 7 assists, most notably a sweet alley-oop to Tristan that has the Q rocking. There was also a wicked spin move and floater off the glass, the kind of move Antawn Jamison used to fail at spectacularly on the daily. I’m not worried about his jumper in the slightest, and I don’t think anyone should be. The form is still there, and he should pick it up again soon.
Varejao gave the team what he always gives the team: 11 points, 10 rebounds, great defense and hyper-activity on both ends. I’ll understand if Chris Grant trades him, but he is so gosh-darn effective. Dion Waiters and C.J. Miles were both ineffective and unexciting, with a caveat or two: Waiter’s fast break explosion past Beal was fun, and Miles did shoot 2-3 on three-pointers. Alonzo Gee finally had a nice game, shooting 4-7 from the field for 13 points. But a single rebound isn’t going to cut it from him. Zeller, Gibson, Sloan and Leuer (sounds like a law firm, don’t it?) were all competent to some extent.
As a team, the Cavs looked fairly fluid offensively. Kyrie facilitated well throughout the game, unsurprisingly. Sloan played some decent ball backing up Kyrie. The Cavs had a great game down low, with 54 points in the paint. That was mostly due to Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao’s activity on the boards, and some nice interior passing.
The team defense was less pleasing. Rotations to the shooter were mostly awful, and as a result of that, Brian Cook scored 14 points. That’s unacceptable, much as Jan Vesely shooting 5-5 from the floor is unacceptable. Waiters, especially, needs some serious help in one-on-one defense. Bradley Beal put 14 points easily, and Dion often looked lost. Tristan seems to have grown defensively, though, and the added weight definitely helps. He looks quite a lot thicker.
Overall, it was a solid effort from the Cavs. Save Donald Sloan and C.J. Miles, the outside shooting was off all night, and that played a large role in the loss. 54 points in the paint will win you most games. Tonight just wasn’t one of them. With Byron Scott bellowing at them daily, I’m confident this team will start to execute and win some games.