Thoughts on Opening Night for the Cleveland Cavaliers

It might only be one game, but we can get excited, right?

Now, I’m not saying the Cavaliers will make a playoff push (we won’t), I’m not saying Anderson Varejao will average 23 boards a game (he won’t), or that Kyrie Irving will put up 29 a game (ehh, maybe). But I do know this team will be fun to watch if they play the type of basketball they did against Washington.

It was nice to see this team get out and run, especially now that they have some guys capable of doing it. There was some good defense played by the Cavs and it was really nice seeing a shooting guard play like, well, a shooting guard.

But it wasn’t all good and that’s where I’m going to start.

First off, the bench play. It’s not that I thought they played bad, it was just that something didn’t seem to click for them. I thought Boobie Gibson and Tyler Zeller had nice nights; especially Gibson. He shot well and looked healthy but we have seen this before. Zeller played a tough 15 minutes and showed a nice shorting touch. After that, it just seemed off. They seemed disjointed and you could tell the chemistry just wasn’t there.

Luke Walton played 12 minutes too many. In the lineup they had out there, he was playing the four and I would much rather see Samardo Samuels out there for those minutes. But that’s just me. This group was also on the court as Washington made their run where they took a short lived two-point lead. For no particular reason, I’ll blame Walton for that. 

But, now onto the good.

I thought the starting five, aside from Alonzo Gee, all played well. I’ll start with Varejao. He put up a line of 9, 23 and 9. 23 boards; are you kidding me? That’s absurd, even for a rebounder like Varejao. He showed just how much he means to this team.

His frontcourt partner, Tristan Thompson, also didn’t have a bad game himself. He posted his first double double of the season with 12 points and 10 boards. He was active defensively, challenging the Washington bigs constantly. His dunks at the end of the fourth quarter basically sealed the game for Cleveland. He shot a solid 5/8; if he can keep that number 50 percent or higher, this team could be on for a big treat with Thompson.

Now, onto our young backcourt.

Bradley Beal and Dion Waiters - Washington Wizards v Cleveland CavaliersIf Tuesday was any indication of what we can expect, this could be fun. First, Dion Waiters put up 17 points on 6/14 shooting, 2 of 5 behind the arc. He completely outplayed the man taken right before him in the draft, Bradley Beal, who went 2 of 8 for 8 points. At times, I found myself trying to find where Beal was on the court. Waiters, on the other hand, was excellent.

He was able to get to the rim at will even though he wasn’t able to finish all of them. He showed a good jumper with nice range. But most importantly, he played well. He didn’t come out and lay an egg, which I’m sure some people were expecting. But I think we just need to start trusting Chris Grant; the man just might know what he is doing.

And now for the grand finale, Kyrie Irving.

It is kind of funny, I was able to talk to Brendan before the game and we joked, “what if Kyrie isn’t what we are expecting and takes a step back?” Well, I think that potential nighmare is over. Irving scored possibly the most effortless 29 points I have ever seen. I mean if you watched the game, what do I really have to say. He scored on the break, at the rim and with the jumper.

He is a superstar. I said in my last post he was in the top 10-point guards. I would like to change that; he is in the top five. It was a great win for the Cavs and obviously there will be bumps in the road, but lets enjoy that opening win and see what kind of ride this team will take us on.

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of StepienRules.com. I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine, Cleveland.com, BleacherReport.com, InsideFacebook.com and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.

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