The Cavs kick-off their preseason in Cleveland with a rematch against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Where: Rocket Mortgage Field House - Cleveland, OH
When: 7 p.m. EST
TV: NBA TV, Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports+
Opposing blog: Liberty Ballers
Expected Cavs starting lineup: Darius Garland / Donovan Mitchell / Caris LeVert / Dean Wade / Jarrett Allen
Cavs injury report: Kevin Love (OUT - knee), Evan Mobley (OUT - right ankle), Dylan Windler (OUT - right ankle), Ricky Rubio (OUT - ACL)
Expected Sixers starting lineup: James Harden / Tyrese Maxey / Matisse Thybulle / Tobias Harris / P.J. Tucker
Sixers injury report: Joel Embiid (OUT - training plan), Montrezl Harrell (QUESTIONABLE - ribs)
Three things to watch
Caris LeVert’s fit with the starters. LeVert looked good in the starting lineup on Wednesday night. That said, there are genuine questions about LeVert’s fit with Garland and Mitchell on both ends of the floor.
LeVert’s fit offensively is a little unconventional. The majority of his field goal makes with the Cavs last season were unassisted, which shows that he likes to create off-the-dribble for himself which is a good skill to have. However, that skill-set typically isn’t a quality you want to have when paired with two other all-star guards. You would typically like to keep the ball in the all-stars’ hands as much as possible while having someone with a lower usage who can shoot and/or make quick cuts to the rim paired alongside them.
That said, LeVert showed in his brief time on the floor that he could pair well with other high usage guards and move well off-ball. In the play below we see LeVert slip a screen he set at the top of the arc for Mitchell leading to a dunk off a Jarrett Allen assist.
Here, LeVert does a good job of probing the defense and hitting Isaac Okoro in the corner. Okoro promptly moves the ball to Mitchell at the top of the key. LeVert, using Allen’s finishing ability to his advantage, finds a soft spot in the defense and dives to the rim for an open layup.
Stuff like this is exactly what the Cavs need from the starting three spot. The defensive end may present some issues but his offensive fit is more clear if he continues to do what he did on Wednesday.
Can Mamadi Diakite back up his impressive fourth quarter performance? Diakite was the star of the fourth quarter on Wednesday night. He played the entire frame while providing eight points on four of five shooting with three boards and three blocks.
Diakite made a good argument for the 15th spot on the roster with his play. We’ll see if he’s able to back that performance up with another good one tonight.
Dean Wade’s three-point shooting. Wade made the most of his minutes in the first preseason game as he knocked down three of his five attempts from the outside finishing with 11 points, five rebounds and an assist in 23 minutes.
While LeVert showed that he could fit with the offense, Wade’s fit is more conventional if he is comfortable taking and making threes. Wade took the majority of his shots from three last season (63.6%) but his incredibly low usage (10.2%) meant that he only averaged 2.8 threes per game. Being a 35.9% three point shooter isn’t as helpful as it could be if you aren’t taking enough threes to generate gravity and attention from the defense.
Wade looked more confident in Wednesday’s game. We’ll see if he’s able to keep that up. His fit in the starting lineup would make more sense given his defensive ability and low usage offensive fit.