CLEVELAND – The Cavaliers open their exhibition season tonight at Quicken Loans Arena, with a roster of 18, two of whom – guards Delonte West and Michael Dickerson – who aren’t here.
Coach Mike Brown is treating this exactly how it should be – a glorified practice. Don’t look for the starters to see a lot of minutes, primarily because Brown wants to get a look at everyone. That means LeBron James will see limited action in the first quarter, primarily because he gave his hometown a show on Saturday at the James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron.
Game: Cavaliers (0-0) vs. Toronto Raptors (0-0)
Broadcast: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Cavs: LeBron James (F); Ben Wallace (F); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C); Sasha Pavlovic (G); Mo Williams (G)
Raptors: Jamario Moon (F); Jermaine O’Neal (F); Anthony Parker (G); Jose Calderon (G)
What to watch: The Cavs will unveil their new look with point guard Mo Willaims as the helm. If last Saturday is any indication, the offense will be looser and looking to run more. Cavs fans heard all about the exploits of rookie J.J. Hickson during the team’s summer league. Brown said that they will get a chance to see the first rounder out of North Carolina State. Be sure to watch his defensive game as on more than one occasion during last Saturday’s Wine & Gold Scrimmage, he stood toe-to-toe with Ben Wallace not giving an inch.
In the coach’s office:
On how many minutes starters will play: “We’re going to be conscious of our guys age and body and stuff like that,” Coach Mike Brown said.
On how much he’d like James to play each game this season: “I’d love to have it around 38 minutes per game.”
In the locker room: James is already sounds as if he trusts his team. “I think with the team we have, (I’ll play) right around 38-40.”
Injury update: Anderson Varejao who injured his left quadriceps at some point this week will play, he said. Lorenzen Wright will sit out with ingrown toenails.
Game analysis: The 104-84 loss to the Raptors tonight wasn't exactly pretty. Actually, it was pretty damned ugly in spots.
But there are a couple of things to take away. First the Cavs got out of that lumbering offense that put people to sleep at The Q last year. You could hear Coach Mike Brown screaming "Push It! Push It!" through much of the game and that they did.
They outscored the Raptors 21-9 in the transition game and it was due primarily to the effort of Mo Williams, whose quickness, along with Delonte West, But Willaims showed that he has a downside as well. There were plenty of times in transition when he chose to pull up and settle for a jumper as opposed to driving the lane and working for an easier look. Could that be a function of LBJ not plaing much? Of course. But it bears watching during the regular season.
Coach Mike Brown said that J.J. Hickson played like rookie tonight. I can't dispute that, but there were more than a few times he looked mighty impressive on defense and just athletically. Take the steal in the fourth quarter. He snatched the ball from Toronto's Will Solomon and raced down the court to finish the play with a thunderous two-handed dunk. Nice work. Other times, however, he looked as if he were lost.
Hey, they don't call them rookies for nothing.