The Cavaliers opened their preseason this Tuesday night against the Atlanta Hawks. Although they ended up losing by a single point (108-107) there were a lot of positives to take away from this game, as well as some indications of how Cleveland basketball could look this upcoming season. Here’s a look back at the Cavs 2023 preseason opener, and what it means for the upcoming 2023-24 season.
The Cavaliers played with a whole new energy than they showed last season. Shooting much earlier in the shot clock, breaking in transition more often and oh so many threes were the primary factors. Although they had 24 points scored in transition, the Cavs shot more than 50% of their shot attempts from deep. Bickerstaff even commented after the game that they missed some opportunities, indicating that their abundance of shooting will only continue to grow.
They also had many more opportunities for dimes, landing at a total of 30 assists for the night. With the floor now covered in Cavaliers who can shoot from deep, the defense (at least Atlanta’s) seemed to have difficulty keeping up with all of them. Each time they collapsed on a shooter it seemed like another one or two popped up. Working like a three-headed, three-point hydra this Cleveland offense is going to cause damage from deep.
The obvious standouts were Isaac Okoro and Evan Mobley. Okoro scored the most of any Cav with 19 points, two assists and three rebounds across 21 minutes played. Mobley, on the other hand, was just shy of a double-double with 10 points, nine rebounds and no assists over 16 minutes. Donovan Mitchell and Emoni Bates were the only two other Cavs to score in the double digits, with 10 points a piece.
Looking ahead, it seems that players such as Damian Jones, Georges Niang, Ty Jerome, and Emoni Bates will be the focus of the preseason with them playing the most minutes. Although Darius Garland, Mobley and Mitchell all played as many minutes we know what to expect from each of them. Players outside of the core, who could possibly contribute more than expected, will be the primary focus of the next two preseason games. Especially with center Jarrett Allen out with a bone bruise in his ankle for at least a couple weeks, expect to see an emphasized role on these young players to start the season (similar to how Mitchell took the reins when Garland started last season benched with an eye injury).
The Cavs play next this Thursday, October 12 at 7:00 PM against the Orlando Magic, then on Friday, October 20 at 7:00 PM against the Indians Pacers. They officially start their season on Wednesday October 25 against the Brooklyn Nets at 7:30 PM.
Featured photo courtesy of NBA.com
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