Final: Cavs 111, 76ers 95
First off: The Cavaliers waived Danny Green after the game. That gets the roster to 15, but there is always the chance the Cavs could pick up a player released by another team. For now, Manny Harris and Samardo Samuels, a pair of undrafted rookies, are safe on the roster.
Now then, on to tonight's game....
This is why the Cavaliers will win more than 15 games, like so many critics have predicted. It's only the preseason, but this team is clearly better than the 76ers. They should be better than the Raptors, Nets and Wizards, too.
Are they a playoff team? That's yet to be determined. But this win over the Sixers showed what the Cavaliers can be this season without LeBron James. They don't have one superstar to take the game over when it's close, but they will have five guys diving on the floor and a head coach demanding that they do.
Everybody will be asked to do a little bit of everything, as was proven tonight when Anthony Parker brought the ball up and started the offense even when Mo Williams was on the floor. The Cavs had a staggering 30 assists on 43 baskets. Williams had seven assists in his first preseason game and Boobie Gibson had nine, a stunning total for someone who has never been considered a genuine point guard.
Gibson may not have nine assists in a game this season, but then again, he might. That's the beauty of the Princeton offense Byron Scott is instilling. Guards are guards and forwards are forwards. The parts are interchangeable. As a result, when Gibson gets in trouble, he should know where his outlet/escape guys are standing to avoid a turnover. That, in turn, is allowing him to relax and do what he does best. Gibson had 15 points and 25 minutes, and with every game, looks more and more like the player he was expected to be after a sensational rookie season.
Let's be clear: The Cavaliers are not one of the best four teams in the East. In no particular order, barring a collapse, Boston, Miami, Orlando, and Chicago have those spots wrapped up. But the Cavs could easily be one of the teams fighting for a No. 7 or No. 8 seed in the playoffs.
Now the question is whether or not making the playoffs as a low seed and likely losing in the first round is good or bad. But that's a discussion for another day.
* Byron Scott wanted to keep Mo Williams between 20 and 25 minutes, while extending Anderson Varejao a little longer since he had a little more practice time. He hit those marks almost exactly. Williams played 26 minutes, while Varejao played 27 1/2. He finally pulled both players late in the third quarter after Varejao started limping around after taking a knee to the shin. Scott didn't want to mess around after that and yanked them both.
* After playing big minutes in each of the last three preseason games, Manny Harris didn't enter until the game's final moments. Scott said he was going to start shortening the bench to set his rotation. Harris was one of the casualties.
* Joey Graham's quad injury has been bothering him for a couple days. It's unclear yet how long he'll be out. He came to camp dreaming of a big role on this team, but after a very quiet preseason, he may be left out of the rotation entirely.