The honeymoon is over so to speak for the 2010-2011 Cleveland Cavaliers who lost for the first time this season after a great opening night upset of the Boston Celtics. As usual I will take a quick look at the key ups and downs for the Cavs Friday night.
1. The offense was downright anemic: After looking good on both ends of the floor against Boston, the Cavs had a great deal of trouble putting points on the board in Toronto on Friday night. The team as a whole shot just 38%, with PG Ramon Sessions as the biggest culprit going just 1-10 from the floor. What compounded the problem with Sessions is that he had five turnovers and just four assists. As the leader of the offense, Sessions needs to work harder at getting his teammates involved and use his great penetration skills to open things up for the rest of the team. Too many times he gets tunnel vision after a dribble drive and forces himself into a nearly impossible contested layup.
2. J.J. Hickson reverted to his former self: On Wednesday night we were privileged to see a great performance from Hickson pouring in 21 points from all over the floor. He was aggressive on both ends and showed an array of moves to get himself into scoring opportunities. This did not seem to be the case on Friday as he was not nearly aggressive and seemed to get lost on the floor at both ends, which was a large part of his game in years past. He was unable to get to the free throw line against the Raptors and also seemed to be in foul trouble for most of the meaningful part of this blowout. Hickson’s production will be key for the Cavaliers this season and they certainly cannot afford to have him lose focus and drift away like he appeared to Friday.
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3. The Cavs lack an experienced core: Outside of Mo Williams, Jamario Moon, and Anderson Varejao the Cavs lack core players who are in their true prime. Most of the main contributors for Cleveland this season are pretty green especially in terms of actual NBA playing time. Hickson, Daniel Gibson, Jawad Williams, and Ryan Hollins all have yet to be relied on for big minutes in their careers and Sessions is starting just his third NBA season. On the other hand remaining rotation players like Anthony Parker and Antawn Jamison have the opposite problem of being near the end of their careers. This dichotomy will lead to some early growing pains for the Cavs while the younger players learn what they need to do and the older ones slide into their roles. The key will be for the younger guys to emulate and learn from the veterans to fully develop the remainder of their talents.
4. The Cavs sorely miss Mo Williams and especially Anderson Varejao: The difference with and without “wild thing” was quite evident against Toronto. The team was out-rebounded by 15 and lacked an overall intensity and energy that Andy routinely brings to this squad. Unfortunately he is with his ill father and we wish him and his family all the best in their time of need. Mo Williams on the other hand is still nursing his groin injury and missed his second game of the 2010 campaign. Williams is a great perimeter shooter and mid-ranger scorer. His scoring will give the Cavs a much needed boost offensively and hopefully he can provide some consistency for the Cavs who have been very up and down when it comes to scoring so far.
5. Finally, the Cavs need to learn that it isn’t always going to be pretty: At halftime the team was down just eight points 46-38 thanks to a buzzer beater three pointer from Anthony Parker. The lead was even as small as six toward the beginning of the third quarter when the Cavs trailed 54-48 despite playing terribly on the offensive end. However, the rest of the third was dominated by Toronto to the tune of 23-7. To me it appeared as if the Cavs had packed it in due to the off night they had from the floor. It will be important for this team to learn that every game doesn’t have to be pretty and that games can still be won even if they aren’t pretty. The need to take their typical hard nosed, gritty attitude and apply it when times are tough as well. If, instead of getting down on their performance, the Cavs were able to fight through their slump down just six points who knows what could have happened.
This article originally appeared on LandLoyalty.com