The NBA preseason continues tonight and hopefully it will include a better effort from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite the absence of several key players from the expected rotation, it will be important for head coach Byron Scott to get more balanced play out of his Cavs than the last game against the Wizards.
Tonight the Cavaliers travel to Houston to face the Rockets (No TV broadcast). It’s the first of back-to-back games in the state of Texas for Cleveland including a contest tomorrow night in Dallas.
Last time out, the Cavs finished with a clunker against the Washington Wizards, falling by the score of 97-83. That was a sloppy affair that should have been much more competitive if the team played up to its full potential. Below the jump here are some keys to get for Cleveland to get back on the right track tonight.
– As mentioned earlier, the Cavs will be without several key contributors for tonight’s contest and tomorrow’s game against Dallas. According to our very own Scott, Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao and Loren Woods will all not be making the trip to Texas. While any injuries are tough, these might be the worst because of the three key aspects that will need to improve ASAP for Cleveland.
– The three main guards for the Cavaliers this season will be Williams, Ramon Sessions and Daniel Gibson. Of those players, none are familiar with Scott’s new Princeton Offense and Williams was the only one to play substantial minutes in a Cavs uniform last year. This alone would lead to early troubles, but not to the extent that fans have seen thus far in the preseason.
– Through the two games, the team has committed 46 turnovers against only 33 assists. That equates to a 0.72 A/TO ratio while the Cavs were near the top of the league with a 1.61 mark in 2009-2010. This will have to change quickly for the team to develop any sort of offensive flow and that falls upon both Sessions and Gibson this road trip. Gibson alone has only two assists in his 51 preseason minutes, so hopefully he can start to change that tonight.
– Another issue thus far with the Cavaliers has been the lack of an inside presence. Both Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shaquille O’Neal provided that factor last season while Ryan Hollins is the lone true center for the team in 2010-2011. Without Varejao’s presence as well, someone else will have to step up and be physical against the taller teams in the league such as Houston and Dallas.
– Some players to watch in this category over the next two nights are Hollins, rookie Samardo Samuels, Leon Powe and Antawn Jamison. All four will need to contribute above average rebounding numbers overall, let alone in relation to the height disadvantage, just to keep Cleveland competitive against these legitimate title contenders.
– Finally, an obvious note on who can be relied upon for the bulk of the scoring this entire season. Here are your scoring leaders thus far in the preseason for Cleveland: Hickson 16.5 points, Gibson 14.0 points and Sessions 10.5 points. Yes, Jamison missed the last game against Washington and it is only the preseason, but something will need to change in the future for this team to be competitive against these kinds of teams.
– Look out for Jamison to lead the way offensively tonight followed by Sessions. If those two can reach double-figure scoring in the new offensive set as two of the newest Cavaliers, I think that will leave Scott with a much better feeling as the team finishes preparations for the regular season.
Around the NBA
– While he still may be writing for the Plain Dealer, ESPN has announced its full plans for the usage of writer extraordinaire Brian Windhorst and also unveiled his new Twitter handle. Check out the link above for the details on the new project that will launch tomorrow and start following him because even though it’s about the Heat, he is yet another local writer making it big on the national stage. Kudos to you Brian.
– Finally, around the NBA yesterday, the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Miami Heat 90-73. While that’s really not that meaningful with the absence of Dwyane Wade, Mike Miller and others, something did happen after the game that made Twitter headlines. Check it out: “Ex-Cavs exec Danny Ferry, now w/Spurs, waited near Heat bus after game for cordial greet with LeBron James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.” [Michael Wallace]
(Photo via Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal)