The Cavs’ 2022-23 home opener is here. It’s also Donovan Mitchell’s proper Cleveland home debut. (Sorry, preseason home games just don’t hit the same.) No Darius Garland presumably as he deals with his eye injury. Let’s get into it.
Where: Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse - Cleveland, OH
When: 7 p.m. EST
TV: NBA TV, Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports+, NBA League Pass
Opposing blog: Bullets Forever
Expected Cavs starting lineup: Donovan Mitchell / Isaac Okoro / Caris LeVert / Evan Mobley / Jarrett Allen
Cavs injury report: Darius Garland (DOUBTFUL - eye), Ricky Rubio (OUT - ACL), Dylan Windler (OUT - ankle)
Expected Wizards starting lineup: Monté Morris / Bradley Beal / Kyle Kuzma / Deni Avdija / Kristaps Porziņģis
Wizards injury report: Corey Kispert (OUT - left ankle sprain), Vernon Carey Jr. (QUESTIONABLE - concussion)
Containing Kyle Kuzma. In three games against the Cavs last year, Kuzma was 9-19 from three, including a 6-9 performance in a three-point win on Nov. 10 in Cleveland. (This led to some weird Cleveland/Kuzma trolling.)
Kuzma and Kristaps Porzinigis are one of the stretchier frontcourts the Cavs will face, at least in terms of willingness to to shoot three-pointers. With Kuzma in particular, this is likely to pull Evan Mobley out of the passing lanes and help defense. He’s not a great shooter — 35% last year overall, including 33% from three — but he’s capable. It’s enough to make Mobley think about what he’s doing.
On the flip side: let’s see how Mobley looks inside against Kuzma. As far as stretchier fours go, Kuzma is strong and can provide resistance when Mobley posts or tries to set up at the elbow. This could be a good gauge of what Mobley can do in those spots.
Isaac Okoro watch. It has been a poor start to the season for Okoro. Saturday’s performance against the Chicago Bulls wasn’t as bad as his opening night dud against the Toronto Raptors, but it wasn’t good. He’s 0-3 from three on the year while shooting 16.7% from the field overall.
The Wizards game, though, feels like a game they’ll need him. Okoro is the team’s best option against Bradley Beal and he’s an option to use on Monte Morris. But he has to provide more on offense. He can’t continue to do this and get minutes. Right now, it feels like Cedi Osman is a much better option than Okoro on top of Caris LeVert beating him out for the starting small forward job.
What does the rotation look like? Robin Lopez made his Cavs debut against the Bulls, playing a solid 16 minutes off of the bench. That bumped Dean Wade out of the rotation with Wade playing only in garbage time. On top of that, Evan Mobley only played 25 minutes with Jarrett Allen playing 29. Last year, they averaged 33.8 minutes and 32.3 minutes per game, respectively.
This was likely J.B. Bickerstaff doing some minor load management on the front half of a back-to-back with Mobley and Allen. The Cavs largely controlled the Bulls, so there was no need to push them too much with a game coming the next day. As for Lopez and Wade, let’s see what minutes they play against the Wizards. How that looks here could be a cypher — or at least the beginning one one — for what types of games Bickerstaff wants Lopez for.