CLEVELAND — The flames that normally burst into fireball infernos out of the tips of the 15-foot silver swords at each corner of the video board during player introductions at Quicken Loans Arena remained at pilot-light level for Monday’s annual Wine & Gold scrimmage for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
That is to say, this might be the first time Cleveland took the court at The Q as a team this season, but it’s far from what the finished product will look like.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue blew the whistle with 15.8 seconds remaining in the third of the four planned 10-minute quarters, calling it a night with the Gold (substitution) team leading the Wine (starters) team in the loosely scored event.
Though Cleveland still has five preseason games to really get a feel for what it has before the regular season opens up Oct. 17 against Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics, there were a few things worth noting from Monday’s exhibition nonetheless.
He might not have been finishing above the rim with the type of two-handed dunks that made him a star in Chicago, but Cavs starting point guard Derrick Rose (at least while Isaiah Thomas is out) finished at the rim on several occasions, showing his signature explosiveness in the open court.
There were two plays in particular that stood out. In the first quarter, with Jose Calderon backpedaling to try to guard him, Rose broke out a perfectly executed Eurostep on the break to elude the Spaniard and finish the break with two points.
“I probably traveled, but that’s something that I’ve been working on over there is that Eurostep, then learn how to get fouled,” Rose said. “In the open court, they told me to attack. Like I said a couple days ago, when I attack it opens up the floor. I got a lot of shooters, so the lanes are going to be open for me.”
He had another memorable trip through the lane to beat the buzzer at the end of the second quarter, starting on the left side of the rim and finishing on the right off the glass to get the bucket.
“The game should tell you what to do,” Rose said. “Whether there are two people on you or one person’s on you, pass the ball. If you’re open, shoot the ball. It should be simple with the personnel that we have on this team. We have mature, veteran guys. Like I said, I’m not looking for the stats. I’m here to just win, man. That’s how I genuinely feel. There’s nothing more to that.”
With LeBron James sidelined with a left ankle injury, Dwyane Wade entered the starting lineup alongside Rose, J.R. Smith, Jae Crowder and Kevin Love. While he scored the starters’ first basket of the night with a pretty step-back jumper, his best minutes came in the second quarter when he switched from the Wine to the Gold squad and ran point guard with the second unit.
“It allows me to be a playmaker, which I love when you have guys like Kyle Korver out there, Channing Frye, sometimes J.R.” said Wade, who was credited with five assists in the quarter and repeatedly found Korver for open 3-pointers. “Whatever lineups Coach puts out there, it gives me an opportunity to have the ball in my hand, make plays and obviously score the basketball.
There’s so much talent on this team, I’m trying to get used to all the weapons that we have. But I like it. I like the changeup. I think the second unit is going to have to be very good for this team to be as successful as it wants to be.”
Of course, Wade was also brought in for his chemistry with James — a connection that everyone in Cleveland is still waiting for a chance to see.
“We haven’t played together still in like four years,” Wade said.
Other than James, Cavs rookie Cedi Osman was the only other player not to see action Monday. Lue revealed the swingman has been suffering from back spasms the past several days that have also kept him out of practice.
The Q started the night with a moment of silence for the victims of Sunday’s mass shooting tragedy in Las Vegas, followed by the national anthem. The Cavs’ entire team stood for the anthem at the foul line extended, as is the team’s usual ritual. Love said that, as of Saturday, the Cavs had still not discussed if the team would plan any sort of demonstration centered around the anthem this season — other professional sports teams have locked arms or kneeled — in order to protest the state of race relations in the country today.
Credits : ESPN Sports