In a preseason home-and-home series, the Cleveland Cavaliers took to the hardwood at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse to host the Philadelphia 76ers. It was a homecoming of sorts for star guard Donovan Mitchell, who joined Cleveland late in the summer after spending the majority of his NBA career with the Utah Jazz. The fans that were in attendance gave Mitchell a fairly warm welcome. But, things this evening probably won’t even compare to when Cleveland opens up at home in less than two weeks against the Washington Wizards.
Speaking of Mitchell, he looked lackluster in his Cavaliers debut. He finished the night with 11 points on 3-9 shooting, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 turnovers, 4 fouls as well as a steal and a block. The Cavs lost 113-97 to fall to 0-2 in the preseason.
This isn’t a post that’s about to dogpile on Mitchell. Overall, that was just the tone for Cleveland to open things on Monday night against Philadelphia. They found themselves in a 24-9 hole with about 4:30 left in the first quarter and it was an uphill battle from there on out.
Some of that can be attributed to the Cavaliers lacking both Evan Mobley (ankle) and Kevin Love (knee) tonight as well. Mobley was spotted during shootaround Monday morning taking a series of jump shots around the court with assistant coach Luke Walton. It appears his recovery is going well and keeps him in line for being on the floor when the team opens up their season against the Toronto Raptors. Love, meanwhile, was a late scratch after bumping knees with a teammate. It’s worth noting Love also didn’t play in the team’s annual Wine and Gold Scrimmage as well over the weekend.
But, for those who did play, the Cavaliers, like Mitchell, looked a little lethargic at times on Monday night. They didn’t connect on a three-pointer until there was 4:28 left in the first quarter and went 5-19 from three-point range overall. In their Friday night loss to Philadelphia, Cleveland connected on 14 of their 33 three-point attempts, with half of those successful attempts coming in the first quarter.
Jarrett Allen, who took advantage of no Joel Embiid defending him tonight, was one of the lone consistently bright stars in the starting lineup for Cleveland. He finished the night with 19 points on 7-15 shooting and 12 rebounds. With no Love and Mobley, Allen was taxed with being one of the lone rebounding threats out there for the Cavaliers. Allen responded well - grabbing 4 offensive boards and 8 defensive rebounds.
Again, and thankfully for Cleveland’s sake, this game has no serious weight on really anything for the Cavaliers. It’s another opportunity to learn and grow as a young team with new-founded expectations against some of the league’s best overall talent in the 76ers. If anything, it’s become a bit more clear Caris LeVert might be the odds-on favorite to start at small forward for Cleveland. He’s looked comfortable off the ball next to Mitchell and Darius Garland and is finding ways to make an impact when his number is called. It’s not how LeVert is wired as a player overall but, so far, the signs are encouraging when no one else has truly emerged in the race.
Up next: The Cavaliers are home again on Wednesday, October 12 when they host the Atlanta Hawks in preseason action. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. EST.