The Cleveland Cavaliers finished preseason play with losses to the Wizards and Bobcats, leaving them with a preseason record of 4-4. Let’s take a look back at those two games and preview the upcoming week as the Cavs begin the regular season.
Oct. 23 vs. Wizards, Loss 101-82
Like the Cavs, the Wizards too are hoping to make a return to the playoffs after several disappointing seasons. They’ve built through the drafts the past through years, with John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. as the team’s core, all of whom were top three picks. This game it was Beal who caused trouble for the Cavs, dropping 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting. The Wizards shot 53.6 percent from beyond the arc as team, led by Trevor Ariza, who knocked down five shots from long range in seven attempts.
Meanwhile, Tristan Thompson looked impressive for the Cavs, going for 17 points and 14 rebounds. Kyrie Irving also shined, leading the team with 19 points. However, the bench played pretty poorly, shooting 30.8 percent from the field and committing 17 turnovers.
Oct. 24 vs. Bobcats, Loss 105-92
Despite Irving’s 20 points– tied for a game high with Charlotte’s Jeffery Taylor–the Bobcats handled the Cavs pretty easily all game. The Bobcats generally outplayed the Cavs in all aspects; they committed eight fewer fouls and nine fewer turnovers. Along with Taylor, Gerald Henderson, Cody Zeller, Kemba Walker, Ramon Sessions and Josh McRoberts all were in double figures, giving the Bobcats a balanced offensive attack that overmatched the Cavs.
Anthony Bennett once again got into foul trouble, picking up five fouls in just 17 minutes of play. When on the court, he had little impact with eight points on 3-of-9 shooting and two rebounds. It was an underwhelming preseason for the No. 1 overall pick. He averaged 9.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 21.4 minutes per game. The rookie was expected to struggle some, especially coming off shoulder surgery, as he adjusted to the NBA, but he will need to increase his contribution in the regular season, as the Cavs will look to him for meaningful minutes as the sixth or seventh man.
Perhaps I should just rename this section “Andrew Bynum Update.” The big man with decrepit knees played five-on-five earlier this week. The team currently lists him as inactive for the opener, but head coach Mike Brown has not ruled out Bynum out officially for the season opener.
Meanwhile, the team’s other injured big man, Tyler Zeller, returned to practice Tuesday after being sidelined with an emergency appendectomy. The Cavs’ medical staff cleared Zeller to play in the opener against the Nets.
Uncle Drew Returns
The most important Cavaliers related story from this past week was the release of the third part in the epic Uncle Drew saga. In this installment, Uncle Drew, portrayed by the Cavs’ own Kyrie Irving, wanders down to a jazz club where he convinces his old friend Lights, after sharing a glass of Pepsi Max together, to join him for a game of pickup basketball. Nate Robinson of the Nuggets offers his talents in the role of Lights.
After a rusty start, Uncle Drew and Lights dominate the competition at Chicago’s Seward Park. To add to the blow, Lights’ wife Betty Lou (Maya Moore of the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx) also plays and creates her own highlight reel against the locals. After the game, the commercial ends with a clue for future installments; it appears this triumvirate plans on picking up Wes (Kevin Love) for some more adventures on the basketball court.
It’s worth noting that Irving not only stars in these commercials, but he is also credited for writing and directing them. Not only is he one of the best players in the league, he is also the NBA’s version of Woody Allen. Impressive.
The Week Ahead
Ahhhhhhh, finally. Regular season basketball has returned. Here’s the Cavs schedule for the first week of the season:
- Wednesday, Oct. 30 vs. Nets
- Friday, Nov. 1 at Bobcats
- Saturday, Nov. 2 at Pacers
- Monday, Nov. 4 vs. Timberwolves
The Cavs will be the first team to take on the new-look Nets, who acquired Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from the Celtics and hired Jason Kidd as their new head coach. They then hit the road to take on the Bobcats and Pacers. While the Bobcats won’t make much noise this year, the Pacers have their eyes set on winning an NBA title, after taking the Heat to seven games in the conference finals last season. Indiana looked impressive in their 97-87 opening night win over the Magic. If they stay healthy, the Timberwolves may end up as one of the league’s most entertaining teams, led by Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love. The Timberwolves, who have sat out the playoffs for every year since 2004, will likely be in the mix for one of the final playoff spots in Western Conference.