After taking out the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers in their first two Summer League games, the Cleveland Cavaliers played their final non-tournament game against the New Orleans Pelicans. It was a pretty close game throughout, but the Pelicans ended up getting the best of the Cavs by a final score of 66-62.
This game actually featured a couple neat matchups. Dion Waiters squared off against Austin Rivers while Tyler Zeller was met by Jeff Withey. Waiters continued his aggressive mindset at the beginning of this game, drawing contact and getting to the foul line. Unfortunately, he also continued his recent run of missed free throws, going just 3 of 5 from the line in the first quarter.
After two pretty rough outings earlier in the week, Chris Quinn saw his spot in the starting lineup go to Cory Higgins. Quinn reportedly had to get some stitches after taking a hit in the game against the Grizzlies. Regardless, I fully support this move. Higgins played better than Quinn in the Cavs' first two games and looked solid early on against New Orleans. Matt Dellavedova also put together some good minutes in the first half as well. After looking a little overmatched in the first two games, he seems to have adjusted to the speed of the game better and made a few really nice passes to set up easy buckets. His feel for the game is apparent. He's rarely out of control and seems to really dictate the pace of the offense. I really wouldn't be surprised if he's able to snag that 15th spot on the roster.
Jermaine Taylor is an awesome athlete. We wrote about him earlier today and I chatted with him on Twitter a bit this morning. He threw down some nasty dunks during the pregame warmups and then jumped to show off how high he could reach.
See the smudge above the square? That's where Jermaine Taylor just put his hand. pic.twitter.com/34RgfODxIR— Conrad Kaczmarek (@ConradKazNBA) July 15, 2013
In the actual game, Taylor was pretty good too. He made a few smart passes in transition and drained two deep three-pointers in the first half was well.
Carrick Felix once again struggled offensively. After talking to me on Friday following the game against the Lakers and saying that he wasn't trying to do much, --- he ended up trying to do too much. The Cavaliers didn't draft him for his offensive ability. They drafted him to play defense, provide energy, and rebound the ball. He doesn't need to go out and try to dribble and create his own offense. Just stick to what you're good at, Carrick.
Waiters looked like the best player on the floor, once again. The problem is that he sometimes gets away from what makes him so good. When he is determined to drive to the basket, he can't be stopped. He'll either get a clean look, go to the free throw line, or find an open shooter. But other times, he just gets lazy and takes a bad jumper. Defensively, he looked pretty good. His focus is inconsistent, but when he wants to lock down he does a pretty good job. Off the ball will still take some time, but Summer League isn't the best environment to analyze help defense, communication, etc.
Ultimately, this was a pretty decent game. There were a lot of fouls, but it was close throughout and we saw a lot of nice things from some key players. Tyler Zeller still seems to be adjusting to playing with the weight that he put on, but he was scrapping and battling for rebounds. I know these aren't legitimate NBA big men that he's playing against, but it was refreshing to see him not get pushed around by other centers. He made a few nice plays around the basket and didn't back down even after Jeff Withey had a few emphatic blocks. Zeller really does look a lot stronger and I think we're going to be pleasantly surprised by him this year.