The new look Cleveland Cavaliers took on the 2014 EuroLeague Champion Maccabi Tel Aviv – who also happened to be new Cavs coach David Blatt’s old team.
The starters for the Cavaliers were: Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love, LeBron James, Dion Waiters, Kyrie Irving.
The starters for Maccabi were: Aleks Maric, Guy Pnini, Devin Smith, Marquez Haynes and Jeremy Pargo.
Maccabi came out of the blocks firing with a three pointer by Guy Pnini to get things underway but the Cavaliers favourite(?) son, LeBron James, returned fire straight away hitting a three of his own. His first points as a born again Cavalier.
Pnini got inside the Cavs defense for a nice looking scoop layup and it was a fast paced, back-and-forth game to start off.
On the next play Irving made a feed down low to Kevin Love who hit a nice hook shot and both new Cavaliers superstars were on the board in their first outing for the wine and gold.
The Cavaliers took control until Jeremy Pargo hit another three pointer for the visitors with 7:39 remaining in the first. Maccabi hit a real cold spell after starting off the game with a real flurry, the Cavaliers didn’t just take control on the scoreboard but also in the rebounding battle.
Having said that, with 4:17 left in the first Maccabi started another comeback with a nice alley-oop from Pargo to Alex Tyus. They followed this up with a couple of jumpers from Sylven Landesberg.
As time expired though it was Matthew Dellavedova that spun into the lane and got the buzzer beater to have the Cavaliers leading 30-24 at the end of one.
Landesberg with 7pts, 3rbds for Maccabi while Kevin Love had 4pts, 6rbds for the Cavaliers.
The Cavs got out to a fast start in the second quarter, quickly making the score 38-28 on the back of three’s to Mike Miller, James and a two from Tristan Thompson.
LeBron James threw a nice alley-oop pass to Thompson with about 8:45 remaining which Thompson converted as he looked to be falling behind the backboard. With the lead stretching to 14pts, Maccabi called a time out with 7:58 on the clock.
Irving and James took over in this period, both knocking down shots and setting up teammates while on the Maccabi side of things, Pargo and Landesberg did their best to keep their team in touch.
At half time the Cavs were up by 14pts with a 59-45 lead.
Landesberg with 13pts for Maccabi, while James has 12pts for the Cavs. The Cavs were destroying Maccabi on the boards with a 31-14 advantage at half time.
Another quick start by the Cavs, going 6-2 and pushing the lead to 19pts on the back of Kyrie Irving sinking a couple of shots and then getting to the free throw line. Timeout called by Maccabi with 9:07 remaining in the third.
The break proved to have no effect on Irving as he simply dished out a couple of assists rather than scoring himself, setting Dion Waiters up for two made jump shots.
Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao have combined for 38 rebounds with 56secs remaining in the third – Maccabi as a team have 24.
At the end of three, it’s the Cavs with a 27pt lead 87-60. Thompson has 14pts, 13rbds for the Cavs, Landesberg still the man for Maccabi with 16pts.
The fourth period saw the Cavs bench getting some good run and with 6:05 remaining in the game, the Cavs had the lead out to 29pts.
Pargo and Landesberg continued to try hard for Maccabi but the Cavs seemed to have an answer every time Maccabi tried to mount a run.
Everyone got some court time for the Cavaliers, at one point I flicked over to ESPN boxscores to see that even players not listed to begin with were getting court time!
Joe Harris, loves to shoot and doesn’t like to move around too much on the offensive end before he shoots it.
Landesberg hit his third three of the night to bring it back under 30pts but Harris comes off a good screen to reply straight away.
In the end it was a 107-80 victory by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
David Blatt gets the win over his former team and also gets bragging rights over his former assistant coach (now head coach of Maccabi).
The Cavs looked sharp throughout the game and Irving, Love and James worked well while on the court at the same time.
The rebounding ability of the Cavs, on full display tonight, is going to be a handful for every team that comes up against them. Love, Varejao and Thompson are all fantastic on the glass and teams are going to have to come up with rebounding strategies to lessen the impact those three players can have on the glass.