On Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena the Cavaliers opened their season with a 102-99 victory over former Cavalier Kyrie Irving and the rival Boston Celtics. Nobody knew what to expect considering Cleveland has eight new faces on it’s roster and three new players in the starting lineup. Both teams came out strong in the 1st quarter going back and forth until tragedy struck when Celtic guard Gordon Hayward landed awkwardly after going up for a rebound and suffered a gruesome ankle injury. The official report calls the injury a dislocated ankle and fractured tibia. Players and fans were in shock and upset with what they had just witnessed. This understandably had an effect on the Celtics players as they tried to get ramped back up to continue the game. The Cavs finished off the 1st half strong pulling out to a 54-38 lead.
Boston came out strong in the 2nd half and the Cavaliers kept with tradition with another 3rd quarter struggle as they were outscored 33-18 and led only 72-71 after a buzzer beating three point shot by Derrick Rose to end the quarter. The 4th quarter was tightly contested with the Cavs trailing for a good portion of the quarter. With 46.3 seconds remaining and the Cavs up by one Lebron James found a wide open Kevin Love outside the arc and Love calmly buried the shot and the Celtics hope of spoiling the Cavs home opener. Kyrie Irving had an opportunity to tie the game at the end of regulation but his three point shot fell short at the buzzer. Check out the full game highlights below.
Lebron James was questionable to play leading right up to game time due to the lingering effects of his sprained ankle. In 41 minutes James put up 29 points on 12/18 shooting to go along with 17 rebounds and 9 assists. A remarkable performance considering he was less than 100%. Jae Crowder also had a nice debut scoring 11 points and playing hard nosed defense on his former Celtic teammates. Kevin Love contributed 15 points and 10 rebounds to go along with his big shot in the 4th quarter.
Although they were able to defeat Boston in game one the Cavaliers still have a lot of work to do. At times the offense had a good flow but there were also a lot of stretches where they struggled and looked like a group of new teammates trying to find each other. As a team they shot only 23% (5/22) from three point range. The starting lineup does not boast many long range weapons as newcomers Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade are not known for their outside shooting. The offense when running efficiently with Rose and Wade in the backcourt will consist of ball movement and attacking the basket.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue is looking to get Kevin Love more involved in the offense as the second option. Love took only nine shots versus the Celtics which is not acceptable for a focal point of the offense. Lue will have to continue to find ways to use Love’s offensive skills and look to run the offense through Love at times. Dwyane Wade was a non factor in the opener managing only 8 points on 3/10 shooting. He struggled to get open at times and had a few of his shots blocked around the rim. As the starting lineup begins to gel Wade’s game will open up and he will see more scoring opportunities. Many wonder if Wade would be better off running the 2nd unit while inserting J.R. Smith’s outside shooting back into the starting lineup. There are still many kinks for coach Lue to work out as the season progresses.
The first month or so of the season is bound to be a bumpy road as the team continues to build chemistry and continuity. It will take some patience on the part of both the players and the fans, but the end result when they start to click on all cylinders should be a work of art.