NBA Summer League: Cleveland Cavaliers 82, San Antonio Spurs 70


The Cleveland Cavaliers won their second Las Vegas Summer League game against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday by a tally of 82-70. Cleveland dominated through and through, burying the Spurs early behind a 20-4 first quarter start. No. 1 picks Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins set the pace for the Cavs on both ends of the floor. Wiggins finished with 13 points and two blocks, but shot just 3 of 11 from the field, while Bennett added 13 points and grabbed 14 boards.

The two young Cleveland stars set the pace at two different points in the first frame and in two different respects. Getting the Cavs started off with a three-pointer, Bennett sparked a 13-0 run that spanned over the first 3:30 of the first quarter. The former UNLV player compiled a swift five points during that time, but it was before the game even started when Bennett really dazzled the Las Vegas crowd. A 360 dunk in warm-ups had people buzzing about the continued slimming down of Bennett over this offseason. Just how athletic is Bennett when he’s fit? The video below says enough:

Bennett was even more impressive on the defensive end, grabbing eight boards over the first 10 minutes of the contest against the Spurs. He looked very active on the defensive end, knowing his position on the court and being aware of the players around him so he could set himself up for an easy rebounding opportunity. Although this is just Summer League play, you can definitely tell that Bennett’s confidence is much higher than when he first appeared in a Cavs uniform, and it showed mostly on the boards.

Wiggins was also able to provide solid contribution once again for the Cavaliers Summer League team. Even though he shot 18 times against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, he held back in the first half against the Spurs; he even passed on a few attempts instead of forcing ill-advised, contested shots. Although the 2014 No. 1 pick only went 2 of 4 to start the game, the two shots that he converted on showcased his ability as a step-back jump shooter. The best way to describe it would be natural.

The former Kansas Jayhawks wing still showed athleticism in the lane, but he really shined when playing in the perimeter; and this wasn’t in regards to his shooting. Wiggins’ ability to create space for himself resulted in a very fluid three-pointer that had the Cavs leading the Spurs 16-2 around the 5:30 mark. Wiggins finished with seven first-half points, as his team led the Spurs 41-23 entering the final half of play.

We all know that Wiggins wants to be a defensive star at the NBA level, and we were able to see the drive behind that goal on Sunday against the Spurs. After recording a blocked shot in the first half, Wiggins started to come alive in the third frame, recording an athletic steal and block in the matter of 30 seconds near the midway point. The 19-year-old wing’s motor is very high, and even when he is struggling from the field (was 3 of 9 through 30 minutes of play), he was able to create opportunities for himself and his teammates by never keeping his head down for more than a second.

Something that was very nice to see from the Cavs as a whole for the second straight Summer League game was their ability to bother their opponents from long range. The Spurs ended up shooting 6 of 24 (25.0 percent) from three Sunday afternoon, resulting in another successful defensive outing from the perimeter by the Cavaliers. With Bennett and Wiggins seeing a combined 60 minutes of play on Sunday, they were able to keep the Spurs at bay on defense, forcing them to chuck up long-range shots.

But near the end of the game players like Will Cherry and jack Cooley – who are trying to work their way into the League – started to carry the Cavs. No player more than Cherry, however, helped the Cavs to close out the Spurs. With just under two minutes to go in the contest, Cherry was able to put Cleveland up 11 points with a mid-range jumper that accounted for his – and the team’s – 14th straight point. Cherry finished 9 of 12 from the field and 3 of 4 from three, scoring 21 points.

Cleveland will play their final preliminary Summer League game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.