Mon, 19 Oct, 2015, 09:10
Once again, the Cavaliers accomplished what they wanted to in the preseason. And once again, it had nothing to do with the final score.
On a night that the Wine and Gold dropped their sixth straight preseason contest without a win – falling to the Raptors, 87-81, on Sunday night in Toronto – they return to Cleveland knowing that Kevin Love is locked and loaded for the upcoming campaign.
"I thought I was fine and I felt really comfortable," said Love. "We have been going through a lot of the stuff in practice. (My) body felt better than it has in a long time, so it was a good first step."
Love – who last played in the first quarter of Cleveland’s Game 4 win over the Celtics in the First Round of the postseason and spent the offseason rehabbing his left shoulder – logged only 12 minutes of action, but looked sharp despite going just 2-of-7 from the floor. In that short stint – all in the first half – the three-time All-Star notched six points, four boards, two assists, a pair of steals and a blocked shot.
I think physically (Love)’s really in good shape, he has no problems running the court, moving around on the court," observed Coach David Blatt. "I thought he didn’t shy away from any contact whatsoever. (He) got shots and we know those are shots that he’s going to knock down.
"I was extremely pleased with Kevin tonight."
Love was part of the Cavs play of the night – picking Bismack Biyombo’s pocket in the backcourt and feeding a deft behind-the-back pass to Mo Williams, who toed the arc and drained a three-pointer.
Williams led the Wine and Gold with 13 points, going 6-of-11 from the floor, adding seven boards and a pair of assists. Matthew Dellavedova, who’d been nursing a sore ankle, got the start across from Mo in the backcourt – following up with 12 points and five assists.
On a night when the Cavaliers rested LeBron James and were again without injured starters, Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert, they led through most of the night. But Cleveland inserted some of its non-roster players down the stretch and Toronto outscored the Wine and Gold, 27-17, in the fourth.
Another Cavalier returning to the floor from injury, Anderson Varejao – who missed the balance of last season with a ruptured Achilles – has looked solid throughout the preseason and again on Sunday night in Toronto. In 20 minutes off the bench, the 11-year veteran went 4-for-7 from the floor and 4-of-6 from the stripe – finishing with 12 points, six boards, five assists and a steal.
Jared Cunningham continued his push for a roster spot – netting 10 points off the bench.
Neither team shot 40 percent from the floor on the night, but the Raptors committed only 11 turnovers to the Cavaliers’ 21. That was essentially the difference in the game.
The Cavaliers have stressed repeatedly that the main goal of the preseason was getting out of it healthy. Aside from a scary first-half moment in which J.R. Smith planted oddly on a jumper, tweaking his ankle, the squad escaped Canada unscathed.
Cleveland closes out the preseason on Monday night – playing their third back-to-back of the exhibition campaign when they welcome the Dallas Mavericks to The Q.
The Eastern Conference Champs open the 2015-16 season eight days later when they roll into the Windy City for a battle with the Bulls.