It’s pretty apparent the Cleveland Cavaliers’ summer-league squad is having some fun, and honestly, that’s what the summer is all about.
You want to play a little ball, build a little culture and see who may help you down the road.
The Cavs beat the Indiana Pacers 93-88 in Las Vegas on Monday, improving to 2-1 with the elimination round on the horizon. But all that is basically beside the point.
What matters is what the Cavs were actually hoping to see — some strong play from rookie guard Collin Sexton, as well as returnees such as swingman Cedi Osman and center Ante Zizic.
The Cavs received exactly that from Zizic, as he was clearly the best player in the first two games, displaying footwork and fundamentals on the low blocks in compiling averages of 20.5 points and 12.5 rebounds. He’s also shooting a sizzling 63 percent from the field.
Zizic rested Monday, giving others who hope to earn a spot in training camp a better chance to impress.
Sexton (21 points, four assists) did a nice job of running the team, though he is still very clearly learning on the fly. Athleticism and passion are not an issue. Decision-making at the professional level could still use some work.
And that’s OK. That is what summer league is for.
It’s also for players such as Osman to keep learning, working, improving. He showed he’s quite capable of all, scoring 25 points, grabbing six rebounds and passing for six assists.
“You can tell his swagger, his confidence has grown,” Cavs summer coach James Posey told cleveland.com. “He’s been having a good summer.”
Meanwhile, recently signed two-way big man Billy Preston led the Cavs reserves with 12 points in 21 minutes.
Second-year forward T.J. Leaf paced the Pacers with 20 points, while rookie point guard Aaron Holiday scored 12 points and passed for eight assists. Both Leaf and Holiday played their college ball at UCLA under Indiana legend Steve Alford. Now, they are key youngsters on a team that has dreams of winning the East.
The Cavs and Pacers now await the playoff seeding to determine their next game. The Vegas league playoffs start Wednesday.