The Cleveland Cavaliers regular season has officially begun with a half-week of action, starting off 1-2 in their first three contests.
In their first showing, the Cavs went on the road and beat the Brooklyn Nets 114-113 after heroic efforts by Max Strus and Donovan Mitchell, who both scored 27 points. Specifically, Strus’ performance was not only a leading force in the win, but he set a franchise debut record with seven 3-pointers made.
While Cleveland won their first game, Darius Garland and Evan Mobley came out of the gates sluggish with a combined 25 points between the two Cavaliers. Garland played through a left hamstring strain, an injury that sidelined him in games two and three. For Mobley, he scored 10 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, but his overall demeanor suggested that he was not yet fully comfortable in the offense.
As great as it was to start their season with a win, the Cavaliers’ game against the Nets felt as though the Nets lost the game more than the Cavs won it. It was clear that Cleveland was not in rhythm outside of Mitchell, Strus and Isaac Okoro. Entering Game 2, the additional loss of Darius Garland exasperated these issues, and the team began to fall apart. Max Strus had a slump from beyond the arc, and Georges Niang continued a poor start to his Cavaliers tenure.
The Oklahoma City Thunder visited Cleveland, Ohio for the Cavs’ home opener, but the theatrics quickly faded away as the absence of Garland quickly affected the team’s flow on offense. Since his breakout season two years ago, Darius Garland has transformed into the leader for the newest era of Cavaliers basketball, so missing him was a substantial blow to a team in need of a real coordinator.
Diving deeper into the first three games, the offensive gameplan and individual performances of the Cavaliers are the first areas in need of improvement.