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Postgame Pindowns: Cavs put on a refreshing, defensive effort in victory over Bucks; improve to 2-0

lebron james giannis antetokounmpo

The Cavaliers travel to Milwaukee for their second regular season game, kicking off a back-to-back that they’ll finish at home against Orlando tomorrow. Tonight, fans experience a glimpse of greatness today and tomorrow, as LeBron James matches up against Giannis Antetokounmpo. Here are some pindowns, thoughts for your thoughts.

  1. It’s a new season, and the first half showed plenty of examples of that. The Bucks, while shooting a respectable percentage, were one of the most hesitant to shoot beyond the arc last season. For the Cavs, falling in love with the 3-ball was a blessing and a curse last season. Tonight, roles were reversed as the Cavs scored 38 of their first 55 points in the paint, where as the Bucks took 15 triples with their first 25 shots.
  2. The biggest lead wasn’t reached until the final minute of the second half – all credit to both teams’ defense. Cleveland couldn’t slow down Antetokounmpo and the long and athletic Bucks couldn’t match the Cavs’ physicality down-low (Kevin Love dominated the first half), but both teams followed their defensive game plan.
  3. In addition to Love’s stellar play, Derrick Rose was phenomenal in the first half. He was exceptional in the box score (3-3 FG, 4-4 FT, +7) and on court, showcasing excellent timing by pushing the pace without force anything. Besides his drives, my favorite moment was when he picked up an offensive rebound with five seconds left in the first half, found two defenders in his area, a driving lane, and exploited it to create space for a shooter. The shooter was Dwyane Wade and despite missing the 3-ball at the buzzer that would’ve given the Cavs a nine-point lead at the half, Rose still showed amazing IQ and athleticism with the whip on that pass. D-Rose looks great, until he sprained his ankle in the third quarter, which will sideline him for tomorrow’s game against the Magic and perhaps even longer.
  4. If Giannis Antetokounmpo is within 15 feet of the basket, it’s probably over for your defense.
  5. Kyle Korver didn’t attempt a single shot in the season opener against Boston, and he looked like he took personally against the Bucks. Korver’s defensive effort was apparent from the start; he looked five years younger the way he was flying to the ball. He also went on a personal 9-0 run in the third quarter to give the Cavs their biggest lead up to that point.
  6. What was refreshing about the 2nd half, besides a strong performance from the second unit and several 3-balls, was the sustained defensive effort. There was a smart, balanced appearance that started on that end on the court.
  7. Cavs fans have been begging for it since the departure of head coach David Blatt, but it seems that Cleveland basketball is finally trusting ball movement. 25 assists for the night, and the team managed to improve it’s 3-pt% from sub-30% to above 42% by continuously searching for the open man.
  8. Couple of amazing quotes from the ESPN crew. Marc Kestecher: “The Eastern Conference is waiting for the decline [of LeBron James], it’s not happening.” Jaylen Brown: “The Cleveland Cavaliers are reminiscent of Noah’s ark – they’ve got 2 of everything!”
  9. LeBron James played 37 minutes, finishing with 24pts, 8ast and 5reb. A very quiet performance compared to Antetokounmpo’s 34/8/8, but he did remind the league the difference between him and the Greek Freak. LeBron James doesn’t need to score to make an impact on the game.

Cavs Nation will be covering the Cavs vs Magic from Quicken Loans Arena tomorrow, so expect some more pindowns as the new-look Cavs go for a 3-0 start.

The Land