In the professional debuts of Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, the Cleveland Cavaliers fell to the Toronto Raptors by a score of 104-96.
Cavs leaders: Points: Sessions, 18; Rebounds: Varejao, 10; Assists: Irving, 7
Quick Thoughts: Boy, it's great to have basketball back. Even though the Cavs couldn't pull out the win, I'm just so excited to watch the Cavs and hear Fred and AC call the game. Energy seemed great at the Q and I'd love to hear from some people who were actually in attendance. Overall, the Cavs defense was pretty awful. Jose Calderon and Jarryd Bayless shredded them all night with simply pick and rolls and dribble drive penetration. Byron Scott has his hands full with this squad. Defense MUST improve if Cleveland wants to be competitive with good teams. Obviously, this is just not a good team and neither is Toronto. The sooner we recognize that, the easier this season will be. It's a work in progress. It is crucial to watch the games and witness the improvement that we will inevitably see. The scoreboard will not tell the whole story this year, as wins are simply not the priority. The development of the young players on this roster is the most important thing. Keep an eye on how Thompson and Irving get more comfortable throughout the season.
Irving looked comfortable running the offense, but couldn't find his jumpshot. He was bothered by the Raptors' length in the paint and couldnt get easy layups to get going. He made some beautiful passes and didn't change my opinion about him at all. He's going to be a very very good point guard, it's just going to take a few games to figure it all out. The Cavs as a whole took care of the ball pretty well. Only 7 turnovers to 21 assists as a team is very good. Let's see if they can keep that up as the season progresses.
The lineups that Byron Scott used kind of confused me. I would have loved to see Irving, TT, and Omri Casspi all on the floor at the same time. Alonzo Gee played very well and rightfully took minutes away from Omri, but those three guys are crucial to the future of the Cavaliers. At the very least, Irving and TT need to build some chemistry. More on Thompson later....
I'm not sure why Ryan Hollins was the backup center instead of Samardo Samuels. I get that he had a key block late in the game and that Scott was concerned about the length of Amir Johnson and Ed Davis, but Hollins was bad. Samuels is at least somewhat of a force in the paint. Hollins got pushed around and failed on a bunch of dunks. Although, I suppose we could use some comic relief this season, so I understand if that's why we keep playing him.
I already talked about Alonzo Gee a little bit, but it bears repeating how well he played. Nothing too special in the box score. 13 points on 5 of 7 shooting while adding 3 dimes, 3 boards, and 3 steals. Just an all-around solid game. Casspi didn't see the court much in the 4th quarter because of how well Gee played, not because Casspi was particularly bad. Gee's athleticism is certainly appealing and he seems to have a good deal of raw talent. If he develops into a solid player, that'd be a welcome surprise for the Cavaliers.
Antawn Jamison was terrible. It got to the point that my dad and I were audibly groaning every time he touched the ball. And he would not stop shooting. It seemed like the Cavs would go on a run, and then Jamison would enter the game, shoot it as soon as he touched the ball and kill the momentum. I cannot explain why Jamison was in at the end of the game instead of TT. He shot 6 of 20. SIX OF TWENTY. And honestly, he wasn't even that good. When he missed, I was nervous that he might break the backboard. If he keeps playing like that, he's going to lose the starting job pretty soon.
Tristan Thompson played great. He plays with so much energy. He is incredibly athletic, exploding to the rim on several two handed dunks. Naturally, his first official NBA bucket was a 2-handed jam with 2 defenders around him. He even showed off some pretty post moves. He might have convinced me to invest in one of his jerseys as well...
FearTheSword Player Of The Game:
Razor Ramon was pretty great. He scored 18 points on 12 shots and even knocked down 2 three-pointers (he hit 5 all of last season). He played in control and had 6 assists to only 1 turnover. I don't know if he was trying to prove something to Byron Scott for playing Irving over him or if Sessions is just better suited off the bench, but he was great. If he keeps playing like this, the Cavs should look to trade him and could probably get something of significant value in return. The second unit as a whole played better than the starters and Ramon Sessions was a big part of that.