There is a buzz about this Cavs team that had me excited to attend opening night. The Cavs have a top-10 player in Kyrie Irving, and two very promising starters in Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. Throw in the number-one pick, Anthony Bennett, along with the sneaky-good signings of Jarrett Jack and Andrew Bynum, and you have a playoff team that has the potential to make some noise this year. Obviously, the victory was nice, but more importantly, the Cavs did positive things offensively and defensively that should be sustainable throughout the year. Here are some of my observations.
Things I really liked:
• Jarrett Jack - Jack entered the game with 7:31 left in the 1st quarter; Kyrie had just picked up his 2nd foul. He assisted Andy and Tristan (to be dubbed A&T going forward) on back-to-back 16-20 footers, and ultimately finished the quarter with 10 points and 2 assists. What impressed me the most was his veteran leadership and savvy. When he checked into the game the Cavs were down 6-12; when the quarter ended the Cavs were up 27-26.
• Dion Waiters - Aside from the 1st quarter, at least offensively, I thought Dion played very well. In the 2nd quarter, I thought he put together a few really good sequences. With less than two minutes left in the half, the Cavs down 45-46, Dion correctly used a side pick-and-roll on the right wing and nailed a nice 15-foot jumper. What impressed me was that he realized the switching defender went really far under the screen, and instead of forcing the action, he just took the shot in-rhythm. On the next possession, he really hugged the screener from the top of the key which created a lot of space and he swished a 17-foot jumper. With less than six minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Waiters ran a side pick-and-roll out of the left corner with Thompson. He went wider off the pick to draw his man far enough away to create more space to deliver a nifty one-handed pass to Thompson for an easy layup between the two defenders.
• Andrew Bynum - Fear not, I wasn't going to finish the "like" section without talking about what I saw from Bynum tonight. I am not sure how Bynum went from not being able to participate in every aspect of practice earlier this week, to being a two-way force for the eight minutes he played. I expected him to block shots, which he did, but I didn't expect him to be so assertive in the post calling for the ball. One of the biggest question marks about Bynum throughout his career has been his maturity and sometimes laziness on the court. I saw a guy who was engaged and motivated. If that is the Andrew Bynum we see most of the time, watch out!
Things I enjoyed:
• Earl Clark reminding me of a younger and saner version of Lamar Odom. Great length for his position, can put the ball on the floor, rebounds well. While not the creator that Odom was/is, Clark is a much better defender.
• Anthony Bennett being assertive. He didn't make a basket, but he spaced out nicely on flare screens and flashed some ability to get to the rim. At the 9:30 mark in the 2nd quarter, Bynum fouled Lopez after he shook him on the baseline. Bennett signaled to Bynum it was his fault. While Bynum got caught out of position against Lopez, Bennett didn't rotate over until it was too late. He realized the mistake and I don't remember another instance in which I thought he was blatantly lost defensively.
• For as much over-dribbling as there seemed to be at times, I was happy to see that the Cavs only committed 11 turnovers.
Things to improve:
•Not sure if it was opening night jitters, but starting out the game down 2-12 wasn't ideal. Getting a strong start to the game is very important: Cleaning up the bad passes and taking better shots is something I am sure will improve.
•Poor communication on who is covering the roll man on screens. Brooklyn ran several flare screens around the left-elbow-extended area early in the 3rd quarter, and no defender went with whoever set the pick. Kevin Garnett hit a 21-footer to give the Nets a 57-56 lead, and then Andray Blatche had a wide-open look from the same spot a minute later, only he missed. The Cavs didn't solve this issue either; Williams left the game with about five minutes left in the 3rd quarter and never saw the floor again. Alan Anderson is not a point guard, and was unable to run any kind of pick-and-roll once tasked with the ball-handling duties. I also thought in the first half, two defenders ended up going with whoever was dribbling on the pick-and-roll and didn't seem to have a plan.
• The frontcourt (not counting SFs) combined to shoot 6-13 from the line. The rest of the team went 17-21.
Overall, I was very encouraged from what I saw on opening night. With that said, it is a long season. I didn't get a chance to talk about Kyrie Irving or Tristan Thompson, but given the way they played, I am sure I'll have plenty of chances in the future. Glad to see the Q completely packed, the atmosphere was electric. The Cavs executed well offensively, taking reasonable shots and were generally effective in pick-and-roll situations. Defensively, they were smothering at times, something you would expect from a Mike Brown team, and really picked it up in the last five minutes of the game. If they can sustain that kind of effort and focus for a majority of the season, the buzz will have certainly been warranted.
 He also had the highest +/- of any bench player at +10.