Despite playing their third game in as many nights, the Cavaliers came out and beat the Phoenix Suns by a score of 89 to 74. The Cavs jumped out to a big lead in the third quarter, then blew the lead, then built it back up to win by 15. Of the three Summer League games that Cleveland has played so far, this was easily their best. You can tell that they're getting more comfortable with one another.
Cavs Leaders: Points: Samuels, 17; Rebounds: Zeller, 12; Assists: Temple, 3
In my preview for this game, I wrote that I didn't think Dion Waiters would bounce back in this game. I figured he would just be more tired. Well, his numbers weren't fantastic, but they were certainly better. He shot 5 of 15 from the field, but managed to get to the free throw line a decent amount and scored 16 points. For much of the game, he was playing on the ball and running the point. It became pretty obvious that he is most comfortable running the pick and roll -- and he's pretty good at it. His passing ability is really strong. He makes some nice feeds out of drives and penetrates to get other guys open. I was shocked when I looked at the box score and he had just 2 assists. Once again, his jumper was off. But he acknowledged that in the post game and that kind of self-awareness is encouraging. He knows he needs to get in better shape and he knows he needs to get more consistent with his jumper. That's a good sign.
If you watch Waiters off the ball, you'll see that he doesn't really move much yet. I attribute this to the Cavs' lack of play sets. It's Summer League so they're running a lot of basic PnR stuff and not much else. As they get into training camp and develop more team chemistry and strategy, we'll see him move a lot more and I think he'll be more effective.
Tyler Zeller had a hell of a matchup. Markieff Morris dropped 24 points and 17 rebounds and was just too much for any of the Cavs' post defenders. I wanted to see Tristan Thompson try to guard Morris, but the Cavs decided to not play him. He's not hurt, the Cavs just know that he is going to be on the roster. They want to give guys like Michael Eric and Samardo Samuels are shot since they aren't on guaranteed contracts. That's understandable. Tristan will get plenty of time to workout in training camp and preseason.
With Thompson out, Morris had a field day. He's too strong and quick for Zeller at this point. I asked Zeller after the game if he thinks he can effectively guard 4s and 5s in the NBA. He says he hopes so but he's got a ways to go.
Kendall Marshall was pretty horrible in his debut. He was rushing passes and turning the ball over left and right. On the defensive end, he got torched by Dion Waiters. He has very little lateral quickness and it showed. Waiters was able to go right past him and ended up at the basket numerous times. Nevermind the fact that he still missed some easy layups, the fact that he got there was encouraging.
Samardo Samuels led the team in scoring. After the game we asked him about his weight loss and how he feels with his "new body". He said that he was still adjusting to the new weight and wasn't used to being so quick. His body control is a bit off because he's moving so much faster than he used to. I think that's kind of awesome.
Fear The Sword's Player of the Game:
He was good. He shot just 4 of 10 from the field but got to the line and made all 9 of his foul shots. He was a +20 when he was on the court in just 22 minutes. Fun stuff.