Home » news » Nba Daily Cavaliers Doing Things By Committee

NBA

NBA Daily: Cavaliers Doing Things By Committee

You can take one preseason game with a grain of salt, but the Cleveland Cavaliers executed what Tyronn Lue’s been preaching throughout training camp.

Updated

on

Judging a team’s progress during the preseason is difficult.

There are limited minutes for starters and veterans. Many players go through the motions or exert less energy in order to avoid injury. For some guys who have been acquired over the offseason, it takes time to get used to their respective squads.

Yet when it comes to the Cleveland Cavaliers, there was little sign of the expected struggles in their first in-game action sans LeBron James.

Put the 102-95 final score and win over the Boston Celtics aside—what matters is that the wine and gold executed well in nearly everything they’ve focused on to this point—pace, transition defense, switching, being selfless and rebounding and pushing.

“I think you can see those things,” Lue said at practice. “We’re playing against a good team, who played their (whole) team outside of Kyrie [Irving].

“They have a very good team, and just seeing our guys play against them and try to do the right things and things we were able to accomplish, offensively and defensively, was good to see.”

Led by Kevin Love’s 17 first-half points, six Cavaliers scored 10 or more. Rookie point guard Collin Sexton added 15 with a couple of threes in his professional “debut.” Jordan Clarkson looked rejuvenated after a rough playoff debut and dropped in 12, as did newcomer David Nwaba.

When asked about the spread of scoring, Lue said he expects that to happen a lot this season.

“I think that’s the way we have to play,” Lue said. “We want to have guys on the floor who can rebound and push the basketball, make plays at every position.

“When we’re playing that way—playing fast, moving the basketball, moving bodies—I think everyone can be effective in that situation. So we’ve got to score by committee where we need five, six guys in double figures.”

From day one, Lue’s message has been to grab and go. In other words, whoever gets that board on the defensive end is off to the races in transition right away. He was happy with what he saw from Love and Larry Nance Jr. in that regard.

“It puts teams in a dilemma when you have a guy who can rebound the basketball and push it out, so we did a good job with that,” Lue said.

“I thought all five guys ran hard, ran the floor hard and we shared the basketball. And as well as playing fast like that, only having four turnovers in that first half was good. So we’ve gotta continue to keep building.”

Despite his size, Tristan Thompson is more of a traditional big man who hasn’t done much ball handling—but the coaching staff is going to work with him to try and get him up to speed for it. It’ll be a work in progress according to Lue, as he laughed and told the media that the veteran center “ran six people over” when they attempted to do it in practice.

Thompson is expecting to get the hang of it sooner rather than later. He’s already a fan of what he’s seen from the Cavaliers’ bigs on that front and eager to join in.

“That’s what we want,” Thompson said of the pace. “At the end of the day, [Tyronn] Lue wants us to play free. Everybody get the ball, push it—because we want to play fast. That’s the style of the NBA. He trusts in myself, Larry [Nance Jr.], Kevin [Love] to bring the ball up and make the right plays.

“You guys saw it when we did it in the game, so we’re gonna keep that going. I think it just makes us play faster and that’s what we want to do—play faster, high possessions, high volume scoring. That’s gonna be our advantage this year.”

On another hand, the defense looked solid Tuesday as well. In particular, it was the hustle back to the other side of the floor that caught this writer’s eye. In so many instances last season, Cleveland would score the ball then immediately get beat down the floor by their opponents with a fast response.

It might be just one 48-minute exhibition contest, but the coaches and even the players who were here then noticed a difference in getting back to prevent the “gimmes” that derail momentum.

“We want to take care of transition defense and open threes,” Lue said. “That’s our biggest thing. Getting back in transition. If you take away that, I think the way we’re playing now and the things we’re trying to implement, I think playing against our half-court defense—it’ll be tough.”

Thompson agrees with his head coach about the difference it makes to be back on the other end to stop a quick inbound leading to a fastbreak.

“That was a huge knock on us in terms of teams getting down and scoring in the first five seconds [of the shot clock],” Thompson said. “[Tyronn] Lue challenged Collin [Sexton] and [George] Hill to pick up 94 feet the first couple possessions just to mess with the point guards. Just to try and slow them down a little bit.

“For us, defensively, however we can take away the easy baskets like transition points or second chance points, that’ll be huge for us.”

Love, the team’s captain according to who’s on the sideline and who’s on the floor, says tip-top conditioning is going to be a factor in improving that element this season.

“Just continuing to get into better shape, executing when we are tired,” Love said. “I think that’s what helped us keep our turnovers down as well, but at the defensive end we really wanted to make sure that we were sprinting back and loading.”

Toning things down a bit, Lue was still critical of the Cavaliers’ spacing. The ball was moving, but there wasn’t enough room often times for players to drive to the hole.

“I thought a lot of times just swinging the ball over to the second side and slipping out and giving our guys room to penetrate, we didn’t do a good job of that,” Lue said. “But first game—that’s to be expected, so we’ve just gotta continue to keep getting better.”

Still, the effort was there, the passion was there and the fun was there—three great signs for a team that just lost the best player in the world.

If you don’t believe it, take it from one of the younger talents Cleveland expects to break out this season—Cedi Osman, who put his not-so-secret playmaking abilities into action with an 11-point, seven-rebound, four-assist performance in Boston.

“For us, I think it was perfect,” Osman said. “What I saw was that everybody enjoyed it. All game we played really good. We shared the ball. Our pace was really good. We ran well. Even though it’s a preseason game, I think we showed people that we’re gonna surprise a lot of teams this year.

“We have to keep working…Of course, we’re gonna make mistakes, which is normal. This year everybody knows it’s gonna be a big challenge for us, but we’re young and we’re gonna take that challenge, so I know that we’re gonna be good.”

We’re going to have to wait and see.

Until then, though, there’s more than a glimmer of hope with this team – in every sense of the word – in The Land.

Spencer Davies is a Deputy Editor and a Senior NBA Writer based in Cleveland in his third year with Basketball Insiders. Covering the league and the Cavaliers for the past five seasons, his bylines have appeared on Bleacher Report, FOX Sports and HoopsHype.

Trending Now