The Cleveland Cavaliers are 1-0. A win over the Brooklyn Nets with a raucous home crowd has the Cavalier faithful dreaming big. The playoffs, and perhaps a seed higher than 7 or 8, is an attainable goal if the early success of Andrew Bynum's rehabilitation continues unimpeded. Even without Bynum, the Cavaliers appear to have plenty of options on the roster for Mike Brown to put together a rotation that can win games. Beating the Nets at home is a sign that the Cavaliers may have a ceiling higher than what a lot of us were willing to let ourselves believe was possible. Beating the Bobcats on the road would be a sign that the team has the focus to win the games they need to win if the Cavaliers' considerable talent should be taken seriously.
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers at Charlotte Bobcats
When? 7:00 PM ET
Where? Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, North Carolina
How can I watch? Fox Sports Ohio
Oasis was coming off the raging success of What's the Story Morning Glory. They were feeling good about themselves. Be Here Now, their follow-up album, was one of the most hyped albums of the 90's, and maybe ever. The first single, "D'You Know What I Mean?" was self-indulgent and inebriated. It contained everything good and bad about Oasis, the guitar playing of Noel Gallagher, brilliant but overwrought, and the lyrics of brother Liam, at once impressive and unnecessarily vague. They later apologized for the entirety of the album, but when it came out they felt like they were bigger than the Beatles. The public never forgave them.
And here are the Cavaliers, young, impressive, and filled with players who don't lack for confidence. Is Kyrie's dribbling a parallel for Noel's endless riffs? Is Dion's offensive game filled with unnecessary complications, a la Liam's lyrics? Time will tell. I have to admit, I love this song, and enjoyed the whole album.
What to watch for from the Bobcats:
The Bobcats are not good but are trying to get better. They want to win basketball games. Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson is a pretty good backcourt that can both penetrate defense and hit outside shots. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist remains talented and raw and young. Rookie forward Cody Zeller is thought to be in contention to win rookie of the year, and Al Jefferson is very helpful, as long as you discount defense. And discounting defense seems to be the (biggest) issue the Bobcats will encounter this season and as they try and build their way out of the basement of the Eastern Conference.
Charlotte's first game with the Rockets was a mixed bag. The game was close until the final 9 minutes and Al Jefferson didn't give them much after missing most of the preseason with an ankle injury. He will get better and provide a boost for the Bobcats. The Rockets are a really good team, and Charlotte played them tough. At the same time, Jefferson's defense was abysmal, which was the main reason many league observers were surprised the once and future Hornets gave him the money they did. Coming to a team that already was at the bottom of the league in team defense, it is hard to see Charlotte taking significant steps forward. But Jefferson, Henderson, Walker, and even guys like Ramon Sessions and Josh McRoberts give this team scoring options. They aren't to be slept on.
What to watch for the Cavaliers:
Kyrie Irving. I liked his game on the whole against the Nets, even with the poor shooting. There are two clear areas that he can adjust. One, he needs to take and make more three pointers. He is the All-Star three point shooting champ for gosh sakes, and he didn't make a single one against the Nets. If Kyrie is going to play off ball with Jarrett Jack and Waiters off the court, Mike Brown has to get him sets that get him open looks. This will come. And two, he needs to continue to work on that floater but get to areas on the court where it is a high percentage shot. He took them against the Nets from the free throw line and from tough angles. It is a really difficult shot and he needs to make sure he is taking them from high percentage spots.
Tristan Thompson. Is that midrange jumper for real? If Varejao is going to be hesitant to take or unable to hit 16 foot footers as he appeared to be in the first three quarters against the Nets, the task will fall to Thompson to help spread the court to get Irving and Dion Waiters some room to penetrate. He isn't a natural candidate to do the job, but he filled in capably Wednesday night. If he has that 17 footer, his ceiling becomes something else entirely from the garbage man we have all expected.
Others: Can the role players keep it up? Dion Waiters, Jarrett Jack, Earl Clark, Alonzo Gee, and C.J. Miles ALL gave the Cavaliers solid minutes Wednesday night. They likely won't need all of them to keep it up, but some combination needs to consistently happen.
Bottom line: The Cavaliers need to come ready to play because the Bobcats can score. Will they be focused enough? Will Kyrie Irving bounce back from a rough shooting night. I think they will. Cavs 102, Bobcats 93.