The Cavaliers dominated over Maccabi Tel Aviv 107-80 in an exhibition opener in front of a sellout crowd Sunday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
The starting five on the floor for the opening tip were LeBron James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving. They started the game with a 10-1 edge on the boards and had a 31-14 advantage at halftime.
The Cavaliers were getting stops and getting rebounds and it showed. There was a 54-24 margin through three periods, after which they lead 87-60.
James had 12 points, four boards and four assists in 20 first-half minutes and didn’t play the whole second half. Between Thompson, Varejao and Love they shouldn’t lose too many games because they both will control the boards.
Thompson had 14 points and 13 rebounds in 19 minutes, while Varejao had 15 boards in 17 minutes and Love had eight points, 11 rebounds and four assists in 23 minutes. This makes a total of 39 rebounds between three players who played a total of 59 minutes.
That board work led to a 31-12 advantage in second chance points and a 20-3 edge in fastball points, with the Cavaliers transitioning from defense to offense in seconds. This was remarkable to see and hope to see more of this type of playing during the regular season.
In one sequence, Love threw a 55-foot overhead outlet pass, hitting a streaking Thompson in stride for a layup. In the next few seconds, Shawn Marion cane up with a steak and fed Waiters for a dunk.
The Cavaliers looked like a great rebounding team but they were going against the club that Coach David Blatt led to the Euroleague Championship last season. The Cavaliers weren’t playing a top-tier NBA team like the San Antonio Spurs or the Chicago Bulls.
Both of these teams like to run the ball at both ends of the court.
Maccabi has had several key players out on injury and had one player on the roster who weighed more than 235 pounds which made it difficult for them to score as efficiently as the Cavaliers did.
Coach David Blatt took no pleasure in soundly beating his former team and was joking with Israel reporters before and after the game.
The Cavaliers have some work to do and need to get coach Blatt’s system down so they can play better defense, but in the end the guys didn’t do too bad. It really seemed like the players played well together and the changing of the line-up gave everyone a chance to play.
All in all, the Cavaliers looked pretty decent and this writer will speculate that they will be contenders in the playoffs in 2015 as long as everyone stays healthy.
The next preseason game that the Cavaliers play the Miami Heat at the HSBC Arena in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on Sat. Oct. 11 at 5:00 p.m.