Well, that was a basketball game.
The Cleveland Cavaliers welcomed the Miami Heat to Quicken Loans Arena, and boy, Miami felt right at home. I guess the game was close for a little while in the first half, and then Dion Waiters entered the game and immediately started distributing and getting into the lane. It was his first action of the season, and he sure looked motivated to show he’s back and healthy. His shooting numbers don’t reflect it, but he provided a spark for Miami. Roughly 57 Miami three pointers later, the game was over.
The Miami Heat, 117. Your Cleveland Cavaliers, 92.
Okay, so it wasn’t actually that many threes. The Heat finished 16 of 31 from distance, but couldn’t miss while they put the game away. A lot of this is just variance - the Cavs are going to get unlucky every once in awhile. But these were wide open looks on the whole, and the Cavs are the worst defense in the NBA. They’re also the worst team in the NBA on the season, and games like this against average teams at home that end up in blowout losses underscore the point.
In terms of positives, I’m not totally sure. It looks like Matthew Dellavedova and Larry Nance Jr. might be able to find some competence for the Cavs in the second unit, and Tristan Thompson’s return helps facilitate that. Collin Sexton finished with more shots than points even as he made two of his four three point attempts; he attempted zero free three attempts (and the Cavs as a whole only attempted 13).
The Cavs finished with just 22 rebounds, but it’s hard to get rebounds when the opponent doesn’t miss, and they finished shooting above 50 percent from both the field overall and the three point line.
This is the type of game that helps with ping pong balls at the end of the year, but that might be a bit Pyrrhic if you don’t start taking steps forward with the players you do have. Of course, it’s impossible to know who will still be around when the Cavs start to compete. Still, positive habits, especially on the defensive side of the ball, are not easy to spot. David Nwaba and Kevin Love will help with simple effort and veteran know-how, but you’d like to see some organic growth from a team that really isn’t that young outside of Sexton and Cedi Osman.
No one expected the Cavs to be a serious contender this year. We did expect player development. I’d like to see it.