Man, it sure was good to have basketball back in Cleveland. The Indians were a disappointment this summer and the Browns, well, we won't talk about that. The Cavaliers have high hopes for 2008-09 and they got to show off their shiny, new toy last night at The Q. The score may lead one to believe the Cavs didn't play very well, but that would be a bit misleading.
My post-game reports are a work in progress, so feel free to let me know what you like, what you don't, and how I can change it up a bit.
After the jump, the BoxScore and reaction --
|Toronto Raptors (1-0)|
|52.0%||54.5%||80.0%||Team Rebs: 9||Total TO: 16|
|Cleveland Cavaliers (0-1)|
|40.2%||26.3%||61.9%||Team Rebs: 16||Total TO: 13|
Mo WIlliams - The Cavaliers have been searching for a true point guard since Andre Miller and his hair was traded what seems like forever ago. The team believes they have found him in Mo Williams. Williams has done little off the court to lead me to think any different, and now he has shown a glimpse to what he can do on the court. While LeBron James is the true "stat-sheet stuffer", Williams looks to be a guy that will keep official scorers busy all year - 12 points / 3 rebounds / 4 assists / 4 fouls - all in 26 minutes. Williams was agressive with the ball, pushing iot when it warrented, and did a good job communicating with his teammates. This trade is going to pay divedends for the Cavs immediately.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas - Big Z looks to be completely healthy after back trouble hindered his finish to the 2007-08 season. I know Z was hoping to play for Lithuania in the Olympics but the time off was needed and seems to have re-energized the big fella. Sure, it is only 1 pre-season game, but Z was going against Jermaine O'Neal, a guy that was a pretty good player at one time. Mike Brown needs to watch Z's minutes carefully in the early going to keep Z fresh, but I have high hopes for Ilgauskas this season.
J.J. Hickson - A solid debut for the rookie, who is going to be a polayer and a contributer this year, I can feel it. Playing nearly 22 minutes, Hickson more than held his own scoring 7 points to go along with 4 rebounds, 2 steals and a blocked shot. The more and more he goes against Ben Wallace and Z in practice, the better this kid is going to become. So far, I like what I see.
The Defense - Yes, it was the pre-season. I know, LeBron only played 8 minutes. I get it, the Cavs led by 8 at halftime before most of the regulars took the night off, and of course, Delonte West didn't play while tending to some personal issues. All that said, the Raptors shot 52% from the field, including 54.5% from long distance. That's unacceptable no matter who is on the court. Defense is always the last to come, however, and the Cavs will be fine. Still, it was a bit shakey, even for pre-season standards, especially in the 2nd half when the Cavs were out-scored 61-33.
Free Throws - This is an area that I will be watching closely all season, because if the Cavaliers are really going to be the specil team everyone keeps talking about they are going to have to be at least average in this area. That said, the start wasn't that encouraging - 13/21(61.9%). The Raptors, on the other hand, went 20/25(80%). The one bright spot in this area was Anderson Varejao, who hit all 3 of his attempts.
Coach Mike Brown
On the team's overall performance
We looked pretty good at it at times, at other times we looked sloppy. We have to be selective with our tempo, we have to know how to run.
On Rookie J.J. Hickson's debut
He looked like a rookie. He did some things that were decent for a young guy, but most things you have to keep trying to talk to him and correct him.
On LeBron's minutes this season
I'm going to keep giving you guys different numbers. I don't have a number that's set. I would love to have it at 38 and under 40 would be great. Anything over 40, and I feel like I have not done my job well.
On his ability to distribute the ball
It didn't take me long to find the pick-and-pop shooter when I got here. Me and Z, we're going to be in a lot of those situations.
On playing the Raptors
It was good to play another team. We're kind of tired of beating up on each other. We did some good things and some bad things.
His reaction when asked if his magic number for minutes is 48
Ha! It would be if I could play 48 at a high level. But I think with the team that we have now, and the players we have, I think around the 38 or 40 range, but we'll see how the season goes.