Dribbles: Before opener, Cavs must work on … well, everything

Rookie guard Darius Garland and the Cavaliers dropped their preseason finale vs. the Celtics.

CLEVELAND — Some random quick dribbles on the Cavaliers’ 118-95 loss to the visiting Boston Celtics in the preseason finale Tuesday night.

1. It’s only the preseason, but if there’s one thing we’re seeing, it’s that it very well could be another long year. Right now, the Cavs have very little continuity.

2. No shock there, as this is a team with a first-time NBA coach in John Beilein and lots of key players who are still learning the pro game.

3. Rookie guards Darius Garland (25 minutes) and Kevin Porter Jr. (26) played more than at any other time in the preseason. That was by design. “It’s just good that they were out there,” Beilein said. “It gives a chance to coach them and help in their development.”

4. Garland has looked smooth offensively when healthy. He scored 16 points off the bench on this night. He also delivered several nice passes on his way to four assists.

5. But it’s going to be a work in progress when it comes to defense in the backcourt. Both Garland and second-year man Collin Sexton (20 points) are undersized and need time to figure out what the officials will let them get away with.

6. Beilein admitted there’s still a lot of work to be done between now and the regular-season opener at Orlando (Oct. 23). Actually, in the case of these Cavs, it may take the majority of the season.

7. For one, the Cavs haven’t yet fully grasped the offense that led to Beilein’s successful 12-year run at the University of Michigan. He cited timing and decision-making as two big reasons why. “People aren’t adapting quickly enough to some of the things we’re trying to do,” Beilein said. “So we’ve had to adjust. We have some obstacles right now that we’ll have to use as stepping stones.”

8. Cavs power forward Kevin Love played just 10 minutes before the trainers told Beilein that Love wasn’t going to go back in. Love said that they just wanted him to rest in the second half, that nothing is wrong physically.

9. He added that he wouldn’t be surprised if things are better toward the end of the season than the start. “I guess what we have on our side is if we play pretty hard, we’ll give ourselves a chance,” he said. “That can help us overcome some of the (growing pains).”

10. Former Purdue guard and current Celtics rookie Carsen Edwards lit up the Cavs with 30 points, including eight 3-pointers in the third quarter alone. Beilein faced Purdue plenty of times in the Big Ten and said, “It’s not the first time I’ve seen that” from Edwards. He also characterized it as a “welcome to the NBA” moment for Garland, who spent some of that time trying to slow down Edwards.

11. Veteran guard Jordan Clarkson added 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting for the Cavs.

12. The Celtics were without just about every major player in their rotation — as Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Enes Kanter, Marcus Smart and rookie lottery pick Romeo Langford all sat for a variety of reasons. I also feel like I’m missing someone in there, but you get the idea.

13. Love is 6-foot-10 and it looked as if he may have blocked the shot of 7-6 Celtics rookie Tacko Fall, but Love was whistled for a foul. So I asked him about it. “I didn’t foul him,” Love said, smiling. “Even his own teammates were saying that.” He added Fall has a long enough reach that “he could probably dunk from the free-throw line.”

14. Finally, this is the last-ever post on Amico Hoops as I am moving to Sports Illustrated to cover the Cavaliers as a beat reporter. SI.com is in the process of hiring a writer for all 30 NBA teams and all the content you read here will be transferred there. Basically, it will be much like Amico Hoops, only with me on the Cavs beat full-time again and at least 29 other new writers for the NBA alone. I predict you’re going to love it. I know I am. I know I won’t miss the 10-hour days of running my own business. Mostly, I know I’m thrilled to have you as a reader, and I really mean that. So thanks for following and I’ll talk to you again very soon.

5 Comments on "Dribbles: Before opener, Cavs must work on … well, everything"

  1. Brett Flenniken | October 15, 2019 at 11:56 pm |

    I’ve really enjoyed Amico Hoops: thank you! I’m glad to hear you’ll continue to cover the Cavs am and looking forward to that.

    • Thank you Brett. I am very excited about the move, not just for me, but especially for fans of the Cavs and NBA. Appreciate you following.

  2. Good luck on your new job. It’s sad that this is the last one but you will be in a great place.

  3. Best wishes on the new venture Sam. I really enjoyed reading the articles and getting insight on our team on this sight. Have a great time with the new job.

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