It’s only one game, and only one half with the players that actually matter, but so far, so good for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In a 102-95 win against the Boston Celtics in their preseason opener, the Cavs offered a glimpse at how they’ll be different this season. Kevin Love led the team with 17 points with top pick Collin Sexton scoring 15 points and Cedi Osman added 11 points and seven rebounds. Rodney Hood also had 10 points for Cleveland.
The Cavs that will lead the team in the regular season played most of the first half — all five starters played at least 17 minutes in the half — as the team played a different style than they have in the past few years. The team looked to push the ball for most of the half, not relying on player to bring the ball up the floor and initiate the offense. Love, Hood and Osman all took turns leading the offense with the starters, while Sexton and Jordan Clarkson led the second unit.
Cleveland dominated for much of the first half too, with Love scoring 17 points to lead the way. But in the second half, when Love, Osman and Hood all sat, the flow of the Cavs’ offense changed. Perhaps because of personnel, the flow and pace was just not there in the second half.
The game got close at the end too, with the Celtics making a late push and Sexton the only Cavalier of note left in the game. Boston cut the lead to single digits with under a minute to go, and it took an Isaiah Taylor basket to end Boston’s comeback hopes.
Based on this game, the Cavs will start George Hill, Hood, Osman, Love and Tristan Thompson (or Larry Nance Jr., depending on the matchup) with Sexton, Sam Dekker, Kyle Korver, Nance Jr./Thompson and Jordan Clarkson rounding out the rotation.
J.R. Smith did not play in this game, but according to a tweet from Fox Sports Ohio play-by-play man Fred McLeod, he will play on Saturday when the Cavs host the Celtics. And for now at least, it would seem Channing Frye, David Nwaba and Ante Zizic are not currently in line for regular playing time.
Tipoff for Cavs-Celtics round two is 7:30 p.m.