The first week of NBA games are officially in the books! The Cavs played three, finishing with a 1-2 record in them. And that first victory was huge, because the league scheduled them to have a four-game west coast trip starting tonight in Denver.
Let’s look back at some positives and negatives from each of the first three contests.
GAME 1: 132-121 LOSS TO MEMPHIS
The Cavs came out of the gates hot, finding their offense early against the Grizzlies. And though they did in fact score early and often, their defense was as soft as a cashmere sweater. They could not get any stops, as Memphis continued to fill it up.
Memphis put up a 41-spot in the second quarter, and outscored Cleveland by seven in the fourth to hold them off for a win. They allowed Ja Morant to score 37, and for two other Grizzlies to score 20+ points. Memphis shot 53% from the floor, 42.4% from deep and 100% at the line.
On the plus side, Evan Mobley looked good, finishing with 17-9-6. Jarrett Allen made all 11 of his attempts, finishing with 25 points and also three steals and three blocks. Ricky Rubio had 12 points and 10 assists.
Sexton was quiet, and Garland got hurt. Could have gone better.
GAME 2: 123-112 LOSS TO CHARLOTTE
The second game of the year saw Cleveland play better basketball. But still, they succumbed to defeat against Charlotte. At least Terry Rozier didn’t go off for 40 again. But, Miles Bridges had 30 points and seven boards. Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 25 off the bench.
They were -10 on the boards, which makes little to no sense given that they employ three seven-footers in the starting lineup. It could definitely have gone better. On the plus side, Ricky Rubio had another double-double with 15 points and 10 assists. Though he had six turnovers, most of them coming in the final frame.
Collin Sexton had 33 pts on 13-21 shooting. Kevin Love had 11 rebounds and four assists off the bench. But, they didn’t have Garland. Every starter had a negative net rating. And they got outscored by 10 in the fourth. 0-2.
GAME 3: 101-95 WIN VS ATLANTA
The Hawks weren’t too good at the beginning of last year. One of their low points may have been losing to the Cavs. But as a Cavs fan, it was great to see. Lamar Stevens had the game-winning dunk. And now early this year, they have beaten Atlanta again.
Cleveland was +14 in the third, holding ATL to just 17 points. That is where the game was won. They held Trae Young to 8-22 shooting. Cam Reddish scored 19 off the bench, but with all the options in the offense, somebody was going to play well. They held the Hawks to shooting splits of .384/.294/.600.
On the other end, Rubio was magnificent with 23-6-8. Evan Mobley had his first double-double with 17 & 11, as well as four blocks. Jarrett Allen had 11 & 14. Kevin Love was a +11 in his minutes. And winning in spite of a 5-14 outing from Sexton is great.
This marked the first win for the Wine & Golders.
PREDICTION VS. DENVER
In case this article is published after the battle with Denver, here is my prediction:
The game will be hard-fought, but the Nuggets aren’t the same without Jamal Murray. Nikola Jokic will go off, but Cleveland will win a tight one. Sexton will get 30 & Mobley will double-double again.