Wrap-Up – Tuesday’s preseason opener wasn’t so much about facing the Celtics – although it felt great to come back and drop Boston again in Cleveland’s first visit since winning Game 7 of the ECF. It was more about how the new-look Cavaliers would fare in their first outing together.
And although the first team only played the first half, the results were positive across the first three periods – with Kevin Love grabbing his new role as the squad’s leader and top pick Collin Sexton playing with total confidence as Cleveland dominated Boston, 102-95, in a game nowhere near as close as the final score would indicate.
Love and Rodney Hood each came out aggressive on Tuesday night and Cleveland ran out to a double-digit lead to end the first quarter. The Celtics – playing their third preseason game and without the services of Kyrie Irving – were sluggish all night, with Jaylen Brown as the only Boston starter in double-figures.
The Cavaliers had their legs in this one – grabbing that double-digit lead early and holding it until both coaches emptied their benches in the fourth quarter. Boston got within five in the final minute, but Isaiah Taylor put the finishing touches on the affair with a pretty floater to end the scoring.
Kevin Love was rock-solid in the win – leading both squads with 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including 2-of-3 from long-range and 5-of-7 from the stripe. Love – who got a postgame visit from his uncle, the Beach Boys’ Mike Love – also notched four boards and a steal in 18 productive minutes of work.
Collin Sexton – this past June’s 8th overall pick – looked like he’d been doing it for years, following up with 15 points. The Young Bull went 5-of-11 from the floor and 2-of-3 from deep, tallying three boards and an assist in just under 23 minutes off the bench.
David Nwaba and Jordan Clarkson each added a dozen points of their own off the bench – with Nwaba hitting on four of the five shots he attempted and Clarkson going 5-of-8 after hitting all three attempts before intermission.
Sophomore Cedi Osman had a nice all-around effort – chipping in with 11 points to go with seven boards and a team-high four assists. Rodney Hood rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures with 10 points in the win.
Boston was paced by a pair of reserves as well – with Marcus Smart (15 points) and Marcus Morris (14) leading the way.
Turning Point – The Wine & Gold wasted no time in this one, jumping all over Boston early – taking a nine-point edge three minutes into the contest and barely letting up from there. After the Celtics cut it to three midway through the period, Cleveland bounced right back – closing the quarter on a 16-6 run to take a 13-point edge after one.
Both teams went with their regular rotations in the second quarter, but the Cavs held firm – never allowing Boston to cut their edge to single digits before half.
By the Numbers – 16 three-point percentage (5-of-31) that the Cavaliers held Boston to in Tuesday night’s win in the Garden.
Quotable – Collin Sexton on being nervous before his NBA debut … ”No, I was ready to get out there and get the first one under my belt just because we were getting tired of playing each other in practice. I try to just stay level-headed and go into the game with a clear mind and not worry about anything.”
Up Next – The Wine & Gold now return home for a pair – opening the home preseason schedule with these same Celtics on Saturday night. The Pacers come to The Q for a Monday night meeting. Cleveland wraps up the preseason next Friday night when they travel to face the Pistons at the Jack Breslin Student Center on the campus of Michigan State University.