CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Ante Zizic scored his first NBA points on Saturday night. That was the high point of the Cavaliers’ first loss of the 2017-18 campaign.
A Wine and Gold starting five that consisted of three players 32-years of age or older came out flat on the second night of a back to back, allowing the Orlando Magic to hit eight 3-pointers in the first quarter.
Frank Vogel’s young bunch never looked back.
“They were playing at a different speed than we were, just way faster, at almost every position,” Cavs Head Coach Tyronn Lue said.
The Cavs were sluggish in their defensive rotations and did not seem to have their legs under them as they struggled to 33-of-86 shooting (38.4%), 7-for-25 (28%) from distance.
More than tired, the three-time defending Eastern Conference Champions looked out of sorts. The chemistry had not been tremendous through their two wins prior, but a roster already missing its lead guard was even more discombobulated with point guard Derrick Rose on the pine.
36-year old Jose Calderon started in lieu of Rose, and had such poor rhythm with his teammates, that he did not return until Lue emptied his bench down 32 with 8:21 left to play.
It was LeBron James’ first time spent on the floor with Calderon after missing most of the pre-season.
Every Cavalier who played double-digit minutes made a turnover in the game, resulting in 16 giveaways to just 15 assists.
“As professionals, you’ve got to figure it out,” James said. “But there’s always chemistry things, there’s always comradery things and things on the floor that you hope that you handle, and we didn’t handle tonight, obviously.”
One of the things the Cavaliers are trying to figure out is their early-season struggles from 3-point range. A small sample size had yielded a 33% mark from deep coming into the night before a paltry effort, but there is legitimate reason to be concerned about how the team will develop in that area.
With their best marksman in the second LeBron Era gone to Boston, and his replacement, Isaiah Thomas, relegated to the bench with injury, the Cavs now sit with little shooting ability from their guard spot. Thomas will certainly aid that cause, but in his absence, JR Smith is the only major player at guard with a career 3-point percentage above 30%.
Kyle Korver and Kevin Love will help matters, but those handling the ball are much more focused on attacking the rim, because that is what they are good at.
In prior years with Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers could make up for slow nights with huge shooting performances. In the early going post-Kyrie, it looks as if they will need find ways to compensate for their lack of deep-threats.