One of the best highlights of the Cavaliers’ loss to the Pacers was Dwyane Wade dunking with ease in the second quarter of Friday’s game:
Here it is from other angles:
On the surface, that’s enough to be excited about. It’s the preseason, and Wade almost certainly will not play with that much bounce every night in the regular season. But it is proof that he has something to offer the Cavs. His exact role in Cleveland — and alongside LeBron James, who has yet to play in the preseason — is still to be determined. But anyone who can create and attack the rim like that will get minutes and help Cleveland win games.
But also consider how the dunk was set up. There, with 13 seconds on the shot clock when the ball is passed over to Wade’s side of the floor, where he is standing near Kevin Love. The Cavs’ initial action has failed. So, the ball is swung over to Love. He quickly passes it to Wade and sets a screen on Lance Stephenson, who is marking Wade.
From here, Love begins to pop out back behind the three-point line. But Wade sees an opening when the Pacers poorly switch, so he drives and dunks. Had the defense collapsed on him, Love would have been there as a safety valve. An open three-point attempt for Love is a result the Cavs can definitely live with.
James’ absence so far in the preseason means we don’t know exactly what the Cavs’ offense will look like. But plays like this, where Love is being used to either run the offense or be a part in setting it up, are signals that this won’t be the same old Cavs offense.
Last year, an initial failed back would have like meant a bludgeoning isolation attack from James or Kyrie Irving. This year, Cleveland seems to be going for something more dynamic.