The 2011-2012 is going to be a year of growing pains for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Having a shortened preseason doesn’t help matters. But you can see a glimpse of great things coming for the future in the Cavs 92-87 win against Pistons in Detroit.
It wasn’t pretty. Mistakes were made on both ends of the floor. But that is to be expected considering the lockout and having only a week of training camp. Of course everyone was anxious to see the Cavs first round picks Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson in action. Fans had to hold their breath when Irving went down holding his ankle. Thankfully, he got back up and walked it off. It may have been the wakeup call Irving needed. He ended up finishing the game with 21 points with three assists. He attacked the rim on several occasions and also had some very nice plays on the defensive end of the floor. The Cavs will be looking for him to improve his accuracy when passing the ball, as he had a couple bad passes during the game. However, that can be attributed to only practicing with his new teammates for a week. His passing should improve as he gels with them in the coming weeks and months.
The other rookie, Tristan Thompson started out slow. He picked up several fouls and didn’t seem to be up to speed. However, he erupted in the second half. He finished the game with eight points and four rebounds. He had a powerful drive to the basket that culminated in a big two hand slam dunk. He also had several big blocks and seemed to be all over the court. He defiantly will need time to develop. But you defiantly can see how great he can potentially.
It was also was the first game back for Anderson Varejao. Despite last season’s injury, it looks like Andy may be even better than he was before. He showed the same energy that fans have come to expect from him. But he also showed something more. Defenders have never really been afraid of Andy’s jump shot. But Andy showed off a pretty good jump shot. Jeff Phelps on Fox Sports Ohio broadcast said that Andy had been working specifically on his offensive game. It should be interesting to see how big of an offensive threat he will be this season.
There were other Cavs who had notable performances. Samardo Samuels had an impressive game. He attacked the basket, blocked shots, and took charges. More of the same Samuels we saw last season. He should be a great contributor off the bench. Alonzo Gee and Christian Eyenga also had pretty good performances. The veterans Ramon Sessions, Antawn Jamison, and Anthony Parker also looked good.
One thing that was missing from the game was Omri Casspi. The small forward acquired from the Sacramento Kings in the JJ Hickson trade is another high energy player who can attack the basket. It will be interesting to see how he can contribute to the Cavs when he gets cleared to play. All in all, what fans saw in this first preseason game was very much a work in progress. The Cavs will continue to work on correcting mistakes and gaining continuity as a team. It will be interesting to see the differences between this first preseason game, and the opener December 26th against Toronto.