There was a sequence with about five minutes left in the third quarter and the Cavs up 61-50 that perfectly illustrates what this team will be at its best.
Dion Waiters stood dribbling at the top of the key, when he penetrated and the defense collapsed on him. He dropped an easy pass to Tristan Thompson, who missed the easy shot, but Anderson Varejao was there for the offensive rebound.
The ball found its way back to Kyrie Irving, who again attacked the basket and finished with a short pullup jumper to extend the lead.
The Cavaliers will be at their best when both Irving and Waiters are attacking the basket, Thompson is ready for dropoffs and Varejao is there to clean up the mess. It's not sexy, but when it's at its best, it is certainly effective.
Varejao was fantastic, but was aided greatly by Nene's absence. Waiters was fantastic, but he won't play like that every night because he's a rookie. The Wizards have been awful for a few years now and were without their two best players, yet they still mounted a huge comeback in the fourth quarter to retake the lead.
The Cavs will struggle more often than not this year, but they needed this victory. It sounds silly to say the first game of the season is important, given the scope of 81 more to follow. But the start to this schedule is brutal, beginning with Friday's home game against the Bulls and continuing with a six-game trip that includes a stop in every time zone.
It's only one win, but Waiters played well and Varejao reminded everyone what the Cavs were missing when he was out last season. All in all, that's a pretty good night.
Cavs: Kyrie Irving 29 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists; Anderson Varejao 9 points, 23 rebounds, 9 assists; Dion Waiters 17 points, 2-5 3-pointers, Tristan Thompson 12 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists
Wizards: Jordan Crawford 11 points, Emeka Okafor 10 points, 7 rebounds; Bradley Beal 8 points, 2-8 shooting
Varejao and Thompson combined for 14 assists. Irving, Waiters, Donald Sloan, Daniel Gibson and C.J. Miles combined for six.
Thompson had dunks on three consecutive possessions to give the Cavs a 93-84 lead in the final minute.
"I asked the referees if we can play five more minutes even though the game was already won so he can get another point and another assist. He's so valuable to us because of all the things that he does on both ends of the floor."
The Cavs (1-0) host the Chicago Bulls (0-0) Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena.