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Cavs 110, Magic 105: final thoughts

By Jason Lloyd Published: October 12, 2013
Bennett, Anthony fights for position vs Magic
Anthony Bennett makes a move to the basket around the Magic's Andrew Nicholson Friday in Orlando, Fla. in the Cavaliers' 110-105 preseason victory. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

* Watching Anthony Bennett score from all over the floor during the game’s final 5 ½ minutes demonstrated for the first time why the Cavaliers selected him first overall in June’s draft. Had it been a regular season game, however, he probably never would’ve gotten the chance.

* Bennett made his last six shots, including a pair of 3-pointers and a pair of turnaround fadeaways. He scored inside, he scored outside. He held his ground defensively and drew an offensive foul when Andrew Nicholson couldn’t move him off the block and eventually shoved him with an elbow to the neck – but Bennett ruined it seconds later by snatching the ball out of Nicholson’s hands for a technical.

* Bennett scored 16 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter after missing his first five shots. He grabbed 10 rebounds in the preseason opener against the Bucks, demonstrating his lack of size (6-foot-8) shouldn’t stop him from grabbing rebounds.

* Had this been a regular season game, it’s likely Bennett wouldn’t have even been on the floor for the final 5 ½ minutes. Mike Brown basically said as much following Thursday’s practice.

* “If it was the regular season, probably after the first air ball he shot from 3, and the first time he didn’t get back on defense in transition, or the first time he didn’t box out, he would’ve been coming out of the game,” Brown said Thursday. “He wouldn’t have played big minutes. But it’s the preseason so it’s a great time for him to learn and grow and get better.”

* Before his outburst, Bennett missed badly on a 3-pointer (barely catching the front of the rim), then was called for a moving screen on the Cavs’ next trip down the floor. Brown yanked him immediately and diagrammed on his dry erase board what the rookie did wrong. With 7:35 left and the Cavs down a basket, that easily could’ve been the end of his night if this game actually counted.

* Instead, Brown sent him right back into the game following the brief tutorial – and Bennett was called for another illegal screen when he shoulder blocked Victor Oladipo.

* Yet as badly as it seemed to be unraveling for Bennett, the game seemed to slow down for him once he made that first 3-pointer.

* You can’t appreciate the size of Bennett until you’re standing next to him. He is barrel-chested with broad shoulders, something he said happened naturally. He joked Thursday that he woke up one day during his junior year of high school and suddenly had shoulders as wide as the lane.

* He has great footwork, tremendous range and raw power. But if he doesn’t clean up some of the mental lapses (illegal screens, losing his man defensively), he won’t get a chance for another dramatic finish.

* The Cavs’ defense in the first half against the Magic looked reminiscent to last year. Guys standing around too much, bigs weren’t showing correctly on pick-and-rolls and generally the effort looked poor. As a result, the Magic shot 70 percent in the first quarter and 59 percent in the first half before the Cavs started figuring things out.

* I like Carrick Felix. A lot. It’s clear the coaches do, too. The second-round pick was in the game late in the first quarter. Sergey Karasev, the first-round pick, didn’t enter until the final minutes of the third quarter.

* Felix is a rookie, but Brown said Thursday he’s a rare rookie because he was in college for five years, he earned his master’s degree and he had to play a little junior college. Brown appreciates how hard he has worked to get here, and his maturity level relative to other rookies (Bennett played only one year of college and Karasev is 19 years old) is noticeable.

* Bennett’s big finish overshadowed Dion Waiters’ performance. I like how aggressive Waiters was at attacking the basket, and I only counted a couple of ill-advised fallaway jumpers. He had 21 points and 3 assists in an efficient 8 of 13 shooting performance.

* It will be interesting to watch Waiters’ assists totals this season. Part of the reason the Cavs were so high on him a year ago was his ability to facilitate and get the ball to teammates, but by taking the ball out of his hands quite a bit this season, the assists totals will obviously go down. But if he could finish every night with 3 or 4 assists, it will make the Cavs’ backcourt much more difficult to defend.

* It is only two preseason games, and they were against two lousy teams that should fall to the bottom of the Eastern Conference fairly quickly, but the early changes in the Cavs from last season to this are fairly remarkable. Part of it is a talent infusion and part of it is better coaching. Add it all up and, if nothing else, the Cavs should be fun to watch this season.

 

Stats

Dion Waiters 21 points, 3 assists, 2 steals

Anthony Bennett 16 points, 4 rebounds, made his last 6 shots

Kyrie Irving 17 points, 5 assists, 5 of 16 shooting

Tristan Thompson 14 points, 8 rebounds

 

Up next

The Cavs (2-0) host the Charlotte Bobcats at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Canton Memorial Civic Center.  

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