The Cleveland Cavaliers have only played two preseason games, but we have already learned a lot about a young team in the middle of rebuilding. In their first game, at Quicken Loans Arena, the Cavs squared off against Montepaschi Sienna on Monday, October 8. Despite a slow start and an impressive performance from former NBA point guard Bobby Brown, the Cavaliers fought off a slow start in the first half to come away with the 91-85 victory. Brown, who saw 41 minutes of game action, recorded 22 points on 5-of-13 shooting from three.
In the Cavaliers first preseason appearance against an NBA opponent on Tuesday, things didn’t seem to go Cleveland’s way. Weak performances in the second and fourth quarters, coupled along with another unimpressive performance from rookie Dion Waiters, doomed the Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving and C.J. Miles were remarkable throughout, but forward Jon Leuer provided the brightest, and only, spark off the bench. Still, the Cavs couldn’t seem to overcome the Central Division rival Milwaukee Bucks, losing 97-80.
I’ve noticed some things about this Cavs team so far, some inspiring and others concerning. If the Wine and Gold want to finish third or better in the Central Division, they need to be able to shoot with better precision and focus on their ball-handling skills. Here are five of my thoughts so far through their first two preseason games.
1. Samardo Samuels is the most-improved Cavalier – We’ve said it time and time again, Samuels has come back stronger than ever after a disappointing campaign last season. He put together a hardy showing in the Wine and Gold scrimmage, and came back with an even better effort against Sienna. He recorded 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field and grabbed seven rebounds. If we can see this production on a nightly basis, Samuels could develop into the team’s best bench player. He’s showing that early on.
2. We need more Tyler Zeller – Zeller, who played in both preseason games for 26 and 23 minutes respectively, has not played as well as I thought he would early on. His presence hasn’t been felt inside, and that worries me. I know it’s premature to make these comments, but I would put Zeller in with the starters before the preseason ends. I just don’t think he’s being used to his best potential right now.
3. Donald Sloan has outplayed Jeremy Pargo for the backup point guard job – Although Pargo was a more involved in the passing game than Sloan was, I was really excited with how Sloan held his own. He registered 13 points and was a perfect 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. I liked what I saw from Sloan at the end of last season, and it seems like he’s picked up from that same spot.
4. Dion Waiters deserves to be sitting at this point – Head coach Byron Scott sat Waiters after a poor showing against the Bucks on Tuesday, further proving that he will not hand the No. 4 pick the starting role. Waiters is a combined 4-of-13 from the field with zero three-point attempts converted. He managed to score 11 points against Sienna on Monday, but that was before entering the game and air balling a three pointer to start things off. He has only played 29 minutes over two games, but the have been a lackluster 29 minutes. He committed four turnovers against the Bucks and made only one shot.
5. C.J. Miles is determined to earn that starting job – Miles has put up double digits in both games thus far and has been able to shoot at a consistent level. His 16 points may stand out as the strongest statistic, but from watching and listening on the radio I was excited to see and hear how smooth he was with the ball. One turnover in two performances is something to get excited over, especially if he’s going to be our starting shooting guard. Miles was excited when he heard he was coming to be apart of the Wine and Gold rebuilding process, and now I’m excited to have him on board.