With under two weeks before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Oct. 25 season opener on the road against the Brooklyn Nets, the Cavs have started their preseason action with two close losses against the Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic.
Thus far, Cleveland has used this time to begin navigating the new additions to the squad and experimenting with new lineups in the wake of Jarrett Allen’s early injury. While a 0-2 start in the preseason is underwhelming, the Cavaliers are already showing signs of significant improvement from last season in terms of pacing and confidence on the perimeter.
Last year, the Cavs averaged 31.6 3-point attempts per game, placing them 24th in the Association in attempts. This lack of confidence and lethality cost them in the playoffs, and the offseason additions of Max Strus, Georges Niang and Ty Jerome were heavily influenced by this undeniable need for improved 3-point strength.
In the first two preseason games, the Cavs have attempted an average of 46 long range shots. The offense has had more off-ball movement, as well, thanks to the efforts of Max Strus to find his opening. The improved floor spacing is already showing its value, forcing defenses to spread out rather than clutter the paint.
While Cleveland has lost these first two matches, there are highlights that hint to the kinds of changes the front office and coaching staff envisioned with their moves this summer. While Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell have started the preseason sluggish, the pieces added around them to help space the floor are clearly fitting the team’s needs thus far.
Additionally, the starters for the Cavaliers have played fairly limited minutes per game, ensuring the team is at full strength at the start of the season as long as Jarrett Allen returns quickly. In the mean time Cleveland’s bench and two-way players have seen improved opportunities to make their case for a bigger role in the regular season.
We’ll begin with a bench contributor who started out hot against Atlanta.