The Cavaliers led for much of the game, but made some crucial mistakes down the stretch. In the end, the result was a 68-64 loss at the hands of the Charlotte Bobcats. It was pretty much what you'd expect from a team's first Summer League game -- sloppy and disjointed. However, there were plenty of reasons to get excited for more. This team has 4 more Summer League games and I guarantee you'll want to watch the rest of them.
Cavs Leaders: Points: Zeller, 14; Rebounds: Kennedy, 7; Assists: Waiters, 4
We all wanted Dion Waiters to come out of the gate and drop 30 points, right? Well, he didn't do that. Instead, Waiters' NBA career got off to a bit of a rocky start. He was getting good looks, but couldn't get his shot to fall. I don't have a big problem with his shot selection. One thing that was apparent throughout the game was Dion's inability to get into a rhythm. Sometimes he was really aggressive -- perhaps too aggressive. He got called for a number of charges, although he didn't really seem out of control. Other times he somewhat settled for decent jumpers. I'm sure some of that can be attributed to Kyrie Irving's absence. Without Kyrie there to create space and keep the defense honest, driving lanes closed up for Dion and defenders were able to camp out in the paint and wait for him. I'm not too concerned about his performance. He'll get better as the week goes on and showed some nice things. His passing instincts were really good and he made the right play most of the time. All in all, I liked what I saw -- even if the results weren't great.
Tristan Thompson had a so-so game. He was really solid on defense -- altering and blocking shots in the paint all night. On the offensive end, he looked much more comfortable than last season. He looked decisive when he got the ball, like he had a plan. Sometimes the plan worked and sometimes it didn't, but at least he had an idea of what to do. As usual, he was relentless in pursuit of offensive rebounds and managed to gobble up three of them in just 22 minutes of play.
The thing that I was most surprised by was how great Samardo Samuels looks. He slimmed down by about 20 pounds and it shows. He looks like he's in great shaped and was running the floor very well. He elevated quickly for some nice dunks and was much more active on both ends. I plan on doing a bigger feature on him later this week. Samardo could be a nice sleeper pick to be a solid bench contributor this year.
Donald Sloan finished two alley-oops and looked competent running the offense. The Bobcats ran a hard press nearly the entire game that put some extra strain on the Cavs offense -- something that wouldn't have happened if Kyrie Irving were healthy. The more I see him play, the more I feel as though Sloan is as good an option as any of the free agent point guards that the Cavaliers could sign.
Justin Holiday will be on an NBA roster. He looked sharp on both sides of the ball and made some really slick passes.
Fear The Sword's Player of the Game:
Zeller was by no means perfect, but he had a really solid overall game. He moved well on pick and roll defense and crashed the boards hard. Despite committing 7 fouls (you get 10 in Summer League), he was otherwise really good. He stepped out and hit 18-footers with regularity and led all scorers with 14 points. Byron Scott raved about Zeller's ability to run the floor and that was on display Saturday night. Zeller gets up and down the court very quickly and knows how to fill the lane correctly in order to be in position for the pass. He made some nice athletic plays on a dunk and an and-1. He's a really mature guy and looks to be an excellent pick-up for the Cavaliers.