So I guess they CAN lose.
Kyrie Irving made his return to the court tonight, scored 23 points, and generally looked pretty good. The Mavs looked pretty good too, the Cavs looked good in spurts.
The Cavs offense was a little disjointed, with LeBron James taking a pretty large back seat to Kyrie Irving for most of the game. Saying LeBron played most of the game at half speed feels about right, but he had 12 points on 6 shots, 4 assists, and 2 rebounds in 26 minutes. The team struggled most of the night with the Mavericks 2-3 zone, which is a somewhat unique look. They seemed to figure it out in the second quarter when they ouscored the Mavericks 29-19, but the offense looked out of sorts all over again in the third.
The Mavericks offense looked in mid-season form. They whipped the ball from one player to the next, and exposed a lot of lazy rotations, over rotations, and general confusion in the Cavs defense. They scored 37 in the first quarter, and 32 in the third. They were lead by 19 points each from Chandler Parsons and Jameer Nelson.
A.J. Price - Even on an off night, and missing Kevin Love, boy can the Cavs shoot. They were 15-37 from 3, a cool 40%. The most surprising part of that is that Price continues to shoot it really well in the preseason. A career 32% 3 point shooter, he is shooting 42% from deep this preseason. Tonight he hit 2-3 in a Cavs fourth quarter comeback that was short circuited by a few Brandan Wright Buckets.
Before the game, Chris Haynes, and a few of the other Cavs beat writers made mention of the fact that Price had been practicing well and may be making a run at the backup point guard spot that Matthew Dellavedova currently occupies. I don't find that likely. Dellavedova (1-7 from the field, 1-4 from 3) played 31 minutes to Price's 6 tonight, so it would seem to support that skepticism. We will see if it becomes more of a competition in the future. That said, Price has been impressive, albeit against some really low expectations I had for him.
Tristan Thompson - Thompson's incredible preseason continues. He had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and for a while was the only Cavalier that seemed to know where to be against the Dallas defense. Finding dead spots near the rim and getting off the floor a lot quicker than he has in the past; Thompson was again impressive. His size, strength, and athleticism will be a big factor in the Cavs success. Tonight is one of the few times in his career that he and Anderson Varejao have both played and I thought Thompson looked noticeably better for the evening.
Dion Waiters - Another mixed bag. He was 4 of 15 from the field, BAD! He was 4-9 from three though, GOOD! So I don't know. Monta Ellis had 13 points on 13 shots which is good, buuuuuuut Dion also had 4 turnovers and 5 fouls. He was ok. The three point shooting is important though. He is a weapon when spotted up, which is what he needs to be. If LeBron James and David Blatt are the leaders we credit them for being, then they will get Dion to play the way they want. There is still work to be done, that's fine. I feel like this is gonna be a thing often. When you have players as good as LeBron, Love, and Irving, you end up micro-analyzing things like Tristan Thompson's jumper, or Dion Waiters shot selection for 4 shots a game, or if Anderson Varejao is blocking enough shots. The Cavs are gonna be awesome, their role players are gonna do some great things, and some things are going to be there to piss you off. It is what it is.
Defense - The Cavs looked generally stumped against the Mavs at times. That said, Dallas is probably among the few teams that can sport the kind of spacing the Cavs do. Dirk and Chandler Parsons are a serious problem for a lot of teams at the forwards, and as long as Monta Ellis and Jameer Nelson or Devin Harris are hitting shots, they're really really tough to defend. By no means was the Cavs D good for long stretches, but just keep the competition in mind.
The Cavs will be playing again on Monday in Columbus against the Chicago Bulls.