By Douglas DiLillo
The first three games of the Cleveland Cavaliers season in 2010-2011 might best symbolize the kind of year they can expect to have filled with both highs and lows.
After beating the Boston Celtics, the same team who spoiled the Miami Heat’s first meaningful game together, the Cavaliers were throttled by the Toronto Raptors on Friday.
They bounced back on Saturday against the Sacramento Kings, having the highest of highs in the first half, leading 67-53, then the second half came and it was time to have another low point. The Kings outscored the Cavaliers in the second half, winning 107-104 and handed the Cavaliers their second loss in a row.
“Tale of two halves ladies and gentleman,” Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. “Came out and got up and down the floor in the first half pretty well. Did okay defensively, still had some lapses. In the second half we stopped running, stopped attacking and they were making everything.”
It just goes to show that for every step forward the Cavaliers take this season, they may take another one backward.
The growing pains, however, cannot stop them from making progress.
“I don’t think it should take very long,” Gibson said about his team adjusting to the new style of play and philosophy. “I think the guys on this team want to play hard and want to play the right way. Even though we are playing hard, we have to learn to play smart and trust that your teammate is going to have your back.”
The win against the Celtics showed that there is some promise in the Cavaliers roster that consists of young, unproven talent.
The blowout loss at Toronto and the comeback by the Kings, however, showed that inconsistency could be one of the Cavalier’s biggest problems this season.
Take J.J. Hickson, Ramon Sessions and Gibson for example. Against Boston, they put up double digits in points (Hickson 21, Sessions 14, Gibson 16). Against Toronto? None of the three could do the same (Hickson 6, Sessions 4, Gibson 9).
Flash forward to Saturday evening, at home against Sacramento. All three were able to again be productive and get into double digits before the end of the first half. Sessions, who was 1-of-10 against Toronto, had more points against the Kings after five minutes then he did all Friday night.
Then the second half came and all three seemed to recede back into into their inconsistent ways.
As a team, the Cavaliers seemed to play more like they did against Boston in the first half against Sacramento. The offensive flow was clearly evident until they took the floor in the third quarter. The team inconsistency in general stems from the new style of play.
Defensively, however, is where the Cavaliers are truly letting themselves down.
“I told the guys, until we can get to the point where we are trusting eachother for 48 minutes on the defensive end we are going to have nights where we struggle,” Scott said.
The Kings shot 51.9% from the field but 60% from behind the three point line.
Scott said he wasn’t disappointed because he knows he has a locker room full of young guys and sometimes young players let their offensive game dictate their defense and they must learn that it needs to be the other way around.
Cleveland will now prepare for the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday.