The Cavs didn’t play their starters in the second half of Saturday night’s preseason game with the Philadelphia 76ers, but they had to have liked what they saw before the intermission. The game got close late, but Jordan McRae provided enough offense and the Cavs played just enough defense. Your Cleveland Cavaliers 108, the Philadelphia 76ers, 105.
Kyrie Irving made his 2016-17 debut and played 19 minutes of turnover-free basketball, notching 15 points on 13 attempts and handing out three assists.
Irving found teammates off the bounce and had several other assist opportunities that just didn’t work out. One wrinkle that didn’t happen enough last season involved Iman Shumpert and Kevin Love scoring on off-ball movement following Irving breaking down and collapsing defenses. At times it seems that Irving is dribbling without purpose, but if he develops a rapport with teammates, it makes his handles even more dangerous and effective.
LeBron James looked like himself, but perhaps even a bit improved. He knocked down a few jump shots and looked smooth doing it. He finished with an extremely efficient 15 points on eight shots. If the Cavs continue to have him run second units this season, there are going to be three pointers flying from everywhere. Mike Dunleavy and Channing Frye are smart, move without the ball, and are dead-eye shooters. Richard Jefferson will be involved as well. I don’t know how great the defense will be, but the offense should be tough for opposing benches to counter. Dunleavy and Frye accounted for five threes between the two.
Joel Embiid was reasonably impressive. He committed bad fouls and had some struggles rebounding. He could stand to bulk up some. But he has range out to the three point line, great hands, and plays with aggression. If he stays healthy and works hard, there’s no ceiling on what he can do.
The other young Sixer we are getting our first look at is Dario Saric. He wasn’t particularly impressive tonight, though he did make some very nice passes. At the power forward position he doesn’t have to be an amazing shooter, but it’s clear he was a ways to go. He has time.
For the young Cavs, McRae had an efficient 20 points. Kay Felder struggled a bit more and had trouble finishing when he attacked the rim. He had his moments, though, and appears to have NBA athleticism. We will see.
What did you guys like or dislike?