The first half involved Collin Sexton getting his feet underneath him a little bit, getting out in transition, having some success in the halfcourt. Nothing earth-shattering, but showing that he might be able to pair good athleticism with B+ shooting, passing, and finishing some day.
The second half involved Jordan Clarkson playing like a point guard, finding guys in transition, setting up three point shooters. In short: doing things you don’t expect from Jordan Clarkson.
Look, moral victories are largely silly. But for the most part actual victories aren’t helpful, and that makes moral ones the most valuable. Tristan Thompson was a team-worst -18 while miscast as the starters’ top offensive option (this team really missed George Hill, who wouldn’t have put Thompson in positions where he had to create) but the veteran worked defensively and on the boards. He’s providing, as best as we can tell, a good model for guys like Larry Nance Jr. and Collin Sexton to try and follow.
Sexton himself played 42 minutes without fouling out, and shadowed Dennis Schroder all over the court. Schroder beat up on him a little bit, but he got the experience and hung in there. As the game went on he wore down, but it also coincided with more Clarkson minutes and that’s always a tough pairing for him. And hey, eight assists for Clarkson, who led a late rally with J.R. Smith to make this competitive in the fourth quarter.
This was probably not going to be a good team with a healthy Kevin Love, and George Hill was out and Cedi Osman barely played before leaving with an injury. The Cavs were thin in the frontcourt with Sam Dekker also hurt. There was plenty of ugly stuff in this one - J.R. Smith was atrocious in the first half and then pretty good in the second. The team played Thompson and Nance together and then guards who also don’t really shoot the ball well. I will say it was nice to see the team launch 31 three pointers, even if they aren’t particularly good at them. They need an offense that looks a bit more modern.
The home crowd in Cleveland got into this one for a time, and the Cavs put together a couple comebacks within the game. Hopefully the fight stays with the team through the losses. If they do, fan attention will survive.