With Tyronn Lue playing the second unit to begin the second half, the purpose of Wednesday’s preseason opener was clear – get the starters a good first half run and start sorting out the rotation the rest of the way.
The starters – sans LeBron James (still nursing the left ankle he tweaked a week ago) and Isaiah Thomas (hip) – got accomplished exactly what they wanted to: jumping out to a nice lead over the rebuilding Hawks, handing out 13 assists on their first 17 makes and canning seven of their first nine three-point attempts.
The Hawks would eventually pull away in the second stanza – outscoring the Wine & Gold, 62-43, after intermission and pulling away for the 109-93 win on Wednesday night at The Q.
”The first unit picked up the plays a little better than the second and third units,” said Coach Tyronn Lue. “You can tell they kind of clicked a little bit offensively. That’s a good sign. They were moving the basketball, making the right play and getting assists on made baskets. We did that early in the game.”
As expected, Kevin Love got the start at center – and he responded well to the change, leading Cleveland’s starters with 12 points, going 4-for-8 from the floor, including 3-of-6 from long-range. The four-time All-Star added five boards, three assists and a steal.
Jae Crowder and J.R. Smith rounded out the starting frontcourt in Cleveland’s preseason opener. Crowder finished with eight points on 3-for-4 shooting, going 2-of-3 from deep in the loss.
Check out Wednesday’s stats.
View snapshots from The Q.
Full final game highlights.
Everyone who dressed for Cleveland saw action except Edy Tavares – as Ty Lue went through a dozen different reserves before the game wrapped up.
Kay Felder overcame a slow start to lead the Cavaliers, netting nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. On the night, the sophomore guard from Oakland went 5-of-11 from the floor in just under 19 minutes off the bench.
Ante Zizic led the Cavaliers with six boards in 12 minutes of action, going 2-of-4 from the floor for four points.
Rookie Cedi Osman also got some good run, finishing with six points, two boards and a pair of assists.
“I haven’t had a conversation (with the coaching staff) yet, but my duty in my first year will be to bring the energy to the team, on defense and offense,” said Osman. “I will do whatever I can on both sides.”
The Hawks featured three starters in double-figures, led by Dennis Schroeder, who led both teams with 18 points. Taurean Prince added 15 points and eight boards and Dewayne Dedmon chipped in with 13.
The Cavaliers will practice on Thursday before welcoming the Pacers to Cleveland as the preseason rolls on Friday night at The Q.