The Cleveland Cavaliers have their first preseason win with a 105-99 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday in Cleveland. They were paced by 24 and 23 points from Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland respectively. Isaac Okoro added 16 points, as did Cedi Osman from off the bench.
Isaac Okoro with an offensive pulse
It’s not a secret that Okoro’s season hinges on what he does on offense. For him to have a real role, he needs to make the most of the shots that came his way.
Wednesday was a template of that for Okoro. Starting for the first time in the preseason with Caris LeVert resting, Okoro was 5-7 from the field and 2-3 from three in the first half for 12 points. He ran the floor well, filling lanes to receive passes near the rim when attention went to Darius Garland or Donovan Mitchell.
He also had a nice drive and assist to Mamadi Diakite in the fourth quarter. More of that — even once or twice a game — would go a long way. There was a nice cut from the corner and a eurostep in the lane too.
More importantly, he looked sure of himself as a shooter, still pausing just a half second before he shoots, but not so long that he either allows a defender to close out to contest or halt his shot altogether.
Goin' back to back @isaacokoro303 | #LetEmKnow pic.twitter.com/HD4jJvKdfb— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) October 12, 2022
It wasn’t all clean. In the second quarter, the Cavs swung the ball back his way when Trae Young was defending Okoro one-on-one. Okoro proceeded to run over Young and commit an offense foul.
But that’s not what he’ll be asked to do — he’ll need to take the kinds of shots he took Wednesday and make the most of those opportunities over and over again.
Positive Cedi Osman minutes
Cedi Osman may be a man on the outside looking in this year. He doesn’t feel locked into the rotation if J.B. Bickerstaff does as he’s said and goes 10 deep.
Osman, though, has skills Cleveland theoretically needs. He can shoot threes (and is willing to do so), handle some and moves on offense. He’s light defensively and sometimes freelances too much — particularly on a team that now has two real lead ball handlers — but the shooting is a real skill the Cavs could use.
Wednesday featured the best version of Osman. In the second quarter, he was 4-4 from the field — all on three-pointers — for 12 points to go with 2 rebounds and an assist. All he did was space to the wing and corners depending on the set and fire when the ball came his way.
The most telling three came off of a Garland-Jarrett Allen pick-and-roll. Garland deserves a chunk of the credit — he placed a pass perfectly back towards Osman after he saw Atlanta committed to defending the roll — but Osman stuck the shot.
It’s hard to count on, but Osman deserves a look for minutes if he’s going to play under control like that.
Donovan Mitchell, providing pressure
This wasn’t Mitchell best. But it’s the preseason, so whatever.
What matters are plays like this. Mitchell and Garland already seem to have chemistry in improvisational two-man actions. And the pressure Mitchell often provides at opposing defenses is going to open up a fair amount of open looks like this for Garland.
Our backcourt >>>@spidadmitchell ➡️ @dariusgarland22 pic.twitter.com/vUwI59fzg4— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) October 12, 2022
These two are going to be potent from the get-go.
UP NEXT: The Cavs close out the preseason on Friday in Orlando against the Magic. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.