Welcome to the fifty-eighth installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” This Friday Trevor Magnotti and Zak Kolesar sit down and discuss the latest trending topics concerning your Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA. The combination of rotating RDE duos answer three questions regarding the hometown Wine and Gold and two questions surrounding the league.
Today the discussion revolves around the Cavaliers home opener against the Brooklyn Nets, Andrew Bynum’s first appearance in Wine and Gold, season opener MVP, stellar veteran performances by Kevin Durant, Kevin Love and Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose’s game winner on Thursday against the New York Knicks.
First Question: What was the biggest takeaway that you had from the Cavs’ season opener against the Nets?
Trevor Magnotti: Let’s discuss the rebounding, because in particular, I thought this was an area where the Cavs would have to perform strongly, and where they really excelled. Kevin Garnett and Reggie Evans predictably led the Nets, but Tristan Thompson had nine rebounds, Earl Clark and Anderson Varejao each grabbed eight and even Kyrie came on strong inside with seven boards. 16 of the Cavs’ 48 rebounds were off the offensive glass, which was also nice to see. If the Cavs can continue with rebounding nights like this, which wasn’t even a dominating performance, they’ll be in good shape.
Zak Kolesar: When the game initially started, I thought Brook Lopez and the Brooklyn frontcourt was going to have a field day with the Cavaliers inside. I was wrong, because Tristan Thompson came to play on Wednesday night and really set the tone down low for the Wine and Gold. In particular, though, my biggest takeaway was Thompson’s overall play. His 18/9 opening-night performance, in which he shot 61.5 percent from the field, made him the bright spot that energized Cleveland at the start of the second half.
Second Question: Were you surprised to see Bynum on the court Wednesday night, or is eight minutes nothing to really write home about?
TM: I was shocked that he was playing. I didn’t expect him to be cleared until that morning, but then again, this is the Cavs, and under Chris Grant, we never know what to expect. As far as his play, I was very pleased with what I saw. Bynum was a force on the defensive side of the ball, and looked like an absolute stud guarding Brook Lopez. The efficiency of the lineup the Cavs used around Bynum for those eight minutes was also excellent. Jack/Miles/Gee/Bennett/Bynum ended up being the Cavs second-most used lineup, and as I tweeted out Thursday, they had an offensive efficiency of 119 points/100 possessions and a defensive efficiency of 62. That’s, um, quite good. Granted it’s one game, but I never thought I’d see Bynum even dress for the season opener, much less make that much of an impact.
ZK: I loved that lineup too. I loved how long Brown kept those guys out on the court together. Although Bynum didn’t see significant playing time, I was almost certain with myself that we wouldn’t see the center suit up. Easing him back into the game with this type of strategy is exactly what I wanted to see, I just didn’t expect to see it happen at the start of the season. Hopefully we can see him playing consistent double-digit minutes by December.
Third Question: Who was your MVP from Wednesday night’s opener?
TM: It has to be Tristan, right? 8-of-13 shooting, 18 points, nine boards and the team’s most consistent play throughout the game definitely deserves recognition. Thompson played 35 minutes of action, which was nice to see, and handled KG relatively well inside. He even knocked down a few outside jumpers, and was about the Cavs’ only consistent threat inside. A very nice start to what should be an excellent season for TT.
ZK: I remember last season when KG absolutely owned Tristan in one of Anderson Varejao’s first games missed of the 2012-13 season. Trevor, the Cavaliers and everyone who applauded Tristan on Wednesday night are all correct, because the Cavs starting PF proved to us that he deserves 30+ minutes a night, even on a roster with a crowded frontcourt. I wasn’t once upset with the way that Thompson started off his 2013-14 season.
Fourth Question: Which single performance was most impressive from Wednesday: Howard’s 17/26 debut, Love’s 31/17, OT-forcing game or Durant’s 22-of-24 effort from the line?
TM: You missed the most obvious answer of all, Zak: MCW! MCW! MCW! MCW! (Sidenote: I really hope Philly fans adopt the ECW chant to MCW). Michael Carter-Williams melted Twitter down on Wednesday night with his absolutely dumbfounding 22/7/12/9 performance in a Philadelphia WIN (!!!) over the Miami Heat. We watched him in a Cavs preseason game go 1-of-11 from the field and get abused by Kyrie Irving on the defensive end. To turn around and do THAT against Miami? Unreal. Screenshot this Basketball-Reference page, everyone, and never forget the night MCW led the league with a PER of 48.
ZK: Slap me silly, Trevor. I was too caught up with how the veterans performed. That’s an eye-popping stat line to start off your NBA career with. I’m not on the MCW fanwagon by any means, but I have to take a moment to applaud the young man. Hopefully he doesn’t suffer too much in Philly. But out of the three I listed, I would have to go with Howard’s career-high tying 26 rebounds. I think his relationship with Houston is going to work out just fine.
Fifth Question: Does D-Rose’s game-winner against the Knicks negate the fact that he’s shot sloppily through two games?
TM: I say no, because the Bulls have looked atrocious through two games on offense this season, and Rose’s shooting certainly isn’t helping. I’ve watched both Bulls games so far, and what has struck me is the lack of offensive ingenuity the Bulls have shown so far. Outside of post-ups to Carlos Boozer and Rose ISOs, there isn’t much the Bulls are doing that has shown any kind of consistency. Add in that Rose has struggled, and that equals a Bulls offense that is more stagnant than it was last year, which seemed impossible. The Knicks played terribly last night, and never should have been in a situation where Rose needed a game-winner. The Bulls should have won comfortably, had they shot better. I’m not sold on the return of Rose just yet, and I really don’t think the Bulls (or the Knicks, for that matter) are any kind of threat in the East just yet.
ZK: He’s not excused. This offense is going to need some help if Rose keeps shooting at such a high rate ineffectively. The Bulls had one of the worst offenses statistically in the League last season, and they’re not going to be able to rely on Carlos Boozer to shoulder the offensive burden if Rose can’t get back into a 25-point, seven-assist routine. The Knicks are worse off than the Bulls, but Chicago is getting close to that point where they really need to question the offensive output by some players on this roster.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Trevor Magnotti and Chris Manning have to debate at the “Weekly Roundtable.”