After an exciting home opening win over the Brooklyn Nets, the Cleveland Cavaliers dropped two straight games. They lost a close game to the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday 90-84 and a bit of a more lopsided game to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday 89-74.
The loss to the Pacers on a back-to-back was more expected, but the loss to the Bobcats hurt.
The Bobcats are a mediocre team with no playoff expectations and their starting center, Al Jefferson, was out injured. After watching the Cavs defeat one of the top teams in the league in the opener, fans expected them to handle the Bobcats with no problem.
One problem that the Cavs have encountered in their first three games is poor shooting, low assist numbers, occasional stagnant offense and chemistry issues.
One positive from Friday’s game was Tristan Thompson and C.J. Miles, who both had stellar performances. Thompson finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds and shot an astounding 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Miles finished with 22 points, five rebounds and hit three three-pointers.
Thompson built off his stellar opening night performance and had fans raving about how he looked like the best player on the floor once again. Miles told the media during the summer how hard he was working over the offseason, and it’s shown so far this season. The Cavs will need his sharpshooting in big games this season.
Kyrie Irving is still struggling with his shot through three games. After a rough shooting night against the Nets, he went 7-of-17 against the Bobcats and 6-of-17 against the Pacers. He finally hit his first three of the season late in the fourth quarter against the Pacers. It’s no surprise that teams are going to be more keyed in on him all season, so he’s going to have to overcome that while also creating more chances for his teammates.
Dion Waiters had some good stretches on defense against the Bobcats, but was ultimately pulled by Mike Brown for poor shooting and decision-making. He ended Friday 1-of-5 from the field with two points in 14 minutes. He recovered some on Saturday, scoring 17 points although it took him 21 shots to get there. The team only shot 35% percent collectively though.
Andrew Bynum will be sitting out one game in back-to-backs for the foreseeable future and Brown decided to play Bynum against the Bobcats and sit him against the Pacers. Bynum played 10 minutes and looked fairly good once again. He was only 2-of-7 from the field, but had five points, three rebounds and a block. Expect him to receive around 10 minutes against Minnesota on Monday.
Rookie Anthony Bennett continues to struggle through three games. He has yet to record his first NBA field goal, going 0-for-3 on Friday and 0-for-4 on Saturday. He did have six rebounds against the Pacers in 12 minutes, but he’s obviously still trying to adjust.
So far it seems that the starters just can’t quite click at the same time. After two great games, Thompson struggled on Saturday shooting 1-of-5 with only two points and four rebounds. Miles was 0-of-5 from three.
The Cavs outrebounded the Bobcats 42-37 and recorded seven more blocks, while the Bobcats had seven more assists.
The Pacers outrebounded the Cavs 51-37 and had 13 more assists. They also shot 36 percent from three, compared to the Cavs 20 percent. The Cavs recorded nine more steals than the Pacers.
This writer sees the Pacers as one of the strongest contenders this season and it’s well known how stifling their defense is. The Cavs were able to hang around until the fourth quarter when the Pacers put the game out of reach.
The loss to the Bobcats was disappointing and is the type of game that the Cavs will need to win in order to make the playoffs and become recognized as a legitimate team again. We’re only three games into the season, however, and this team hasn’t had much time together. The are the youngest team in the league with several key additions. There’s absolutely no reason to overreact to the Cavs 1-2 start.
The Cavs defense is noticeably improved and the main thing that Brown worked on in preseason. The offense should become better and more consistent as the season goes on. The chemistry will improve, shots will start to fall and Irving won’t be in a slump forever.
The Cavs play a tough Timberwolves team on Monday who just blew out the Oklahoma City Thunder. Here’s to hoping Monday’s game will make us forget all about this weekend.
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