The Cleveland Cavaliers played the Boston Celtics on Sunday. Sort of. Kevin Love, Darius Garland, and Tristan Thompson all sat the game out, and the Cavs lost 118-72. Those could very well be the Cavs best players this year, though Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. figure to have something to say about it.
They didn’t on Sunday afternoon, though. All three struggled mightily and it’s a game the team would like to forget. They also have just one more preseason game to test out rotations and a starting unit before the season begins in earnest next Wednesday. After tonight they’ll have one more week of practice before the grind of the season starts, a huge adjustment for John Beilein coming out of the college game.
It’s fair to believe there could be some real hiccups. Let’s take a look at a few things we’ll watch tonight, as the Cavs take on the same Boston Celtics.
Will we see a bounce-back game from the Cavs that struggled on Sunday?
Cedi Osman was a -38 in 24 minutes. He was 1-10 from the field and missed all six of his three point attempts. Hard to imagine that it could have gone more poorly from a player in a prove-it year.
Collin Sexton wasn’t much better, if he was better at all. He turned the ball over seven times, and also made just one of his field goal attempts, missing the other seven. Larry Nance, Jr. was also inefficient, though not on the Osman or Sexton level.
Look, Darius Garland, Dylan Windler, and Kevin Porter Jr. are the shiny new objects. Perhaps Garland is really the only blue-chip prospect that matters. And of course I’m just riffing on a random preseason game. But the rebuild did start before the draft this past June, and getting legitimately helpful play from Sexton, Osman, and Nance would go a long way towards making the rebuild a bit more smooth.
2. Who will be available tonight?
This matchup is a preseason game. Will it be a dress rehearsal? I think it’s likely we see Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson get some real run. I’m less sure about Darius Garland, and his status as a starter next week is in some doubt. He tweaked his ankle last week and while people seem to think it’ll be fine, he’s not had a chance to get consistent work with his teammates in a live-action setting. At this point, starting him in tonight’s game, or a week from now, would feel somewhat rushed.
3. Are the Cavs going to be able to make threes? They are going to attempt them.
On Sunday the Cavs attempted 40 three pointers, a number that would have been outrageously high five or 10 years ago. That wasn’t a problem, though, as many of today’s best offenses launch high numbers of threes. Making just seven of them, though, is a serious issue. The starting lineup was 1-22 from distance. Variance is something that exists and you’ll have these outcomes every once in awhile. That being said, the Cavs don’t have that many dead-eye shooters, particularly as Garland and Windler acclimate themselves to the NBA and work past injuries. Kevin Love will help, and hopefully Sexton’s shooting from last year carries over. Beilein seems to have a modern offense. Hopefully the Cavs roster is up to the task.