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Two for one: Darius Garland impresses in his Cavs debut

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Plus, a bunch of other Cavs had positives.

San Lorenzo v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

Cavs basketball is back and with a 120-89 win to boot over San Lorenzo de Almagro.

POSITIVE: Darius Garland is going to be a lot of fun

Darius Garland’s first basket as a Cavalier was a look at what makes him an interesting prospect and differentiates him from Collin Sexton:

This move is something really only Jordan Clarkson (who isn’t all that good at it) can pull off for the Cavs aside from Garland. It’s a move that could become really, really hard to guard and make him stand out right away.

And then there was this. This is just really smooth play for a 19-year-old:

Yes, it’s preseason and yes, it’s the first time that Garland has played basketball in a year-plus. His pitch count for Monday kept limited him to 14 minutes. But it’s already clear that he’s got a smooth game, plays with a sense of patience and has some ability to pass guys open. There were some miscues — he missed Kevin Love on one play, for instance — but this was a really encouraging debut. It’ll be fun to see more.

Final line for Garland: 9 points, 4-4 from the field, 1-1 from three, 2 assists, 2 turnovers

NEGATIVE: This was a very preseason-y game

Re-watch this one and you’ll see a lot of stuff that won’t hold true in the regular season. Most notably, Kevin Love didn’t look like himself (15 minutes in the first half, 1-5 from the field, 0-3 from three) and that figures to change once he gets into more of a rhythm. The defense was too willing to give up open three-pointers — something that clearly annoyed John Beilein. And it took a full quarter for the Cavs to really get into rhythm.

This all makes sense. They’ve been in camp for a week dating back to last Monday. That’s just not enough time to be crisp. The goal is to look a little better each time out and be as functional as possible at the start of the regular season.

POSITIVE: A slew of other good performances

Again, this was a preseason game. But here’s a quick rundown of other good performances from Monday:

  • Larry Nance Jr. seems like he’s still adjusting to playing more on the perimeter. But he looked quite bouncy when rolling to the rim and crushed home a few really nice dunks. He also made a three, something the Cavs are going to push him to take when open.
  • Knock on wood, but Tristan Thompson looks healthy. He, too, was strong finishing inside and was the on-court leader in energy. As one of the Cavs who won’t play outside in John Beilein’s system, he was solid at screening, rolling and finishing inside. Ignore the two three-pointers he took and it was exactly what you’d want to see.
  • Cedi Osman was good on both ends. Some of the finishing issues at the rim are still there, but he had five steals on defense, a chase down block and five assists. In particular, he had a really nice pass to Thompson that is a reminder that his best skill — passing — is something that wasn’t seen much in his first two NBA seasons.
  • Kevin Porter Jr. had two really nice baskets where he used his frame and his natural knack for scoring. He also slid in nicely off-ball when he did score, something that’s going to be key if he’s going to thrive as a rookie. It’s too early to read into the Cavs’ rotation, but was part of Beilein’s first player group after the starters. Porter Jr. finished with a 16 points (second on the team, only to Jordan Clarkson) on 7-9 shooting.
  • Sindarius Thornwell came in, had two steals and fed Porter Jr. for a nice dunk. I still like him to make the roster and fight for some minutes.

Up next

The Cavs’ next preseason game is on Friday in Detroit against the Pistons. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.