Missing three starters, the Cavs put up a valiant effort against the Atlantic Division leading Philadelphia 76s. Well, for the first quarter, anyway. The final three periods were practically garbage time. Antawn Jamison led the Cavs with 20 points and 8 boards, Ramon Sessions scored 19 points and dished out 8 assists and Alonzo Gee added 17 points off the bench but it wasn’t nearly enough. Jrue Holiday torched the Cavs for 20 points and Lou Williams had 19 points off the bench for Philly, who had six players finish in double figures.
Philadelphia’s depth and Cleveland’s lack thereof were a stark contrast throughout the game. The Cavs were down just 21-19 after the first period but less than two minutes into the second period the Sixers built a commanding 30-19 lead and never looked back.
- The five to start the second quarter for Cleveland: Boobie-Eyenga-Gee-Samuels-Thompson. Weird lineup. Lord knows that group hasn’t seen much floor time together but they were quite bad (to be fair, Gibson and Tristan are returning from injuries, Eyenga was just called up from Canton and Samuels is only out of Byron Scott’s doghouse to make room for Ryan Hollins). We saw, once again, that Gibson is a shooting guard in a point guard’s body and that he isn’t much use when his shot isn’t falling.
- Not that I’m expecting a lot, but Samardo Samuels has been disappointing. Samardo finished with 6 points and 7 boards in 20 minutes, but shot just 3-8 from the floor (including some ugly, ugly misses) and didn’t get to the line once. Plus, his defense just wasn’t there. What happened to the guy who challenged Carmelo Anthony last season?
- How much longer do we have to watch Omri Casspi start? I know moving Alonzo Gee into the starting lineup completely destroys any bench scoring the Cavs currently have. I get that. But the Cavs got 13 points on 5-22 shooting out of Gibson, Erden and Casspi combined. Sometimes Gee’s aggressiveness leads to scoring opportunities and sometimes they lead to turnovers, but at least he’s out there making things happen. I just know that if I have to watch Casspi airball another layup while jumping off the wrong foot, I may lose my mind.
- Hard not to like the way Philadelphia plays. The Sixers share the ball, don’t take bad shots, play hard at the defensive end and they push the ball up floor. This makes for fun basketball. They have six players averaging double figures in points with two more guys scoring over 9 points per night. Every guy on their team seemingly can beat you in a different way. I’m skeptical on how they’ll do come the playoffs (when the game slows down and rotations shorten), but their depth should win them a bunch of games in this short season.
- 18 minutes of Skyenga = 1 point, 2 boards, 1 assist and a neat chase down block on Evan Turner. Meanwhile, D-Leaguer Ben Uzoh had 2 points, 3 boards and 2 assists in his 5 minute Cavalier debut. Not saying that’s a meaningful comparison, just that there are times you’re watching the game and completely forget that Eyenga is out on the court.
- With Varejao out, there are minutes to be had for any big man who wants to work his way off the end of the bench. Semih Erden slapped at the ball rather than rebounding it, Samardo chucked up some horrible shots and Ryan Hollins… well, he’s Ryan Hollins. In my opinion, Andy’s minutes are Tristan Thompson’s to lose (and he may get them regardless of how he plays). Thompson has shown he can defend at times, he just needs to do it consistently and pick his spots (he tries to block a ton of shots, but when he rotates over, he leaves his man wide open for easy putbacks).
(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)