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5 Things We Learned From 2018-19 Cavs in Preseason Opener vs. Celtics
- Updated: October 3, 2018
While the reality of the situation is that the Celtics sat out former Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving and the contest was simply an exhibition, it offered a positive sneak peek into how the Cavaliers will approach playing during the second post-LeBron James era.
Three more games remain during this portion of the campaign until the Cavaliers open up the regular season in Toronto on Oct. 17. Some of the takeaways from this opening clash include:
Picking Up the Pace
The Cavaliers raced out to an early 11-2 advantage and by halftime held a solid 59-40 lead. Tyronn Lue is instilling the idea that keeping opponents on their toes is the best way for the Cavs to compete, which means constant movement.
That’s the byproduct of getting the Cavs in the proper shape for this approach, but being able to sustain it over the long haul is something that may help gauge exactly how competitive the team will be when crunch time arrives.
Sexton’s Mixed Bag
Undoubtedly, the player that fans were most eager to watch in this game was the Cavaliers’ top draft pick Collin Sexton. Like most rookies, he delivered a mixed bag, with positives merging with some bumps along the way. The good news is that none of the issues are worth being concerned about.
Sexton’s shooting ability was questioned prior to the draft, with his early efforts resulting in 1-for-5 shooting. However, he shook off that slow start by hitting 4-of-6 in this department the rest of the way, connecting twice on 3-pointers.
He only got to the line three times, connecting on all of those attempts, but he showed an aggressive drive to the basket. The goal is to eventually move him into the starting point guard slot, but his 22 minutes of action only garnered a single assist and three turnovers.
Needing Some More Assist-ance
The first game of any season, especially the exhibition variety, often has sloppy stretches that are seemingly inevitable. In this game, the Cavaliers ended up with 18 turnovers, but only collected 13 assists on the night. Considering that the starters called it a night by halftime, such numbers should be expected, yet they serve as an area to smooth out once Lue gets closer to figuring out his rotation.
A Solid Night of 3-D
In some of the more recent seasons, the Cavaliers have had issues when it comes to defending against opposition attempts from beyond the arc. That wasn’t the case on Tuesday night, when they limited the Celtics’ three-point shooting to just 16 percent (5-of-31), a notable number that was enhanced by an 0-12 effort by the hosts during the first half.
With reserves taking over in the second half, Boston improved during the third quarter from deep, with a 4-for-11 effort. However, in the final 12 minutes, it reverted to its earlier form by connecting on just one of its eight attempts for the period.
One of the more intriguing players to watch during this preseason is also among the newest members of the Cavaliers. That’s David Nwaba, who passed up an offer from the Indiana Pacers in order to play for the Cavs and what he perceived as a better opportunity. The basis for that statement is that he’s hoping to deliver a strong season in order to garner a more lucrative contract as an unrestricted free agent next July.
Nwaba was only on the court for 12 minutes, but made the most of his time on the hardwood by scoring 12 points and grabbing four rebounds. Like Sexton, he also showed an aggressive drive to the basket that may help him get to the foul line more often. That’s a place where he hit all three of his free-throw attempts on the night.
The win doesn’t change the fact that the Celtics have replaced the Cavaliers as the favorites to win the Eastern Conference. Still it does offer some hope that the meltdown Cleveland fans saw eight years ago when James first left to play in Miami won’t return. These two teams will take the court again in the Cavs’ next outing, though this matchup will be at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night.