By J. Justin Boggs, Columbus Wired
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Cleveland Cavaliers polished off their NBA preseason on Thursday evening with an 83-77 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in front of 7,092 fans in Value City Arena.
“Pretty happy with how we played during the preseason,” Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott said. “We got a lot of different lineups out there that gave me an opportunity to look at lots of different players. That was a good thing.”
The Cavs finished the preseason with a 6-2 ledger but still seem to have more questions than answers. The obvious question is who will replace the superstar talent that LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neil, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas provided the Cavs last season?
“It Is good for our confidence when you can play and win games,” Cavs forward Anderson Varejao said. “Doesn’t matter whether it is preseason or regular season. It is good for us. I believe we all have a lot of motivation for this season and we just want to be ready. We know we have long way to go.”
“When you lose a guy like (James), the makeup of your team and your expectations change,” Cavs forward Antwan Jamison said. “It changes, we knew that. On the other hand, one thing I like about this team is we don’t make excuses. We still believe this a playoff type of team.”
Certainly fans do not have the same expectations of the Cavaliers like they did a season ago when Cleveland won the NBA regular season crown. The Cavs finished last year’s preseason in Value City Arena in front of a nearly sold-out crowd of over 18,000 against the Boston Celtics on national television. This season, the large upper deck of Value City Arena was covered by a curtain. The lowered expectations do not bother Jamison.
“I like it, that is why you play the game,” Jamison said. “You play the game because of doubters, and so forth. You play because you love it, but it would be good for us to prove a lot of people wrong. Look at the roster, I mean… you got guys who have been on championship caliber teams.”
The preseason is only a small step to proving the doubters wrong that have low expectations of the Cavs. Even with a successful preseason for the Cavs, Scott is still looking for lots of improvement, especially from forward J. J. Hickson.
“He has to know what we’re doing at all times,” Scott said. “He made big time mistakes tonight. Five turnovers; that just can’t happen… It bothers me a lot. I am not pointing him out, because he is not the only one (who has struggled). There have been other guys as well. He is a guy we’re counting on to play a major role in what we’re doing. And right now from an offensive standpoint, he is not getting or understanding what we’re trying to do.”
The Cavs played Thursday’s game a bit short-handed as star point guard Mo Williams was excused from the game to tend to his wife’s family as her father died this week. In his stead was Ramon Sessions who sparked the team with a 26 point effort which led the Cavs in points. Sessions made key baskets in the fourth quarter as 10 of his 26 points came in the last 12 minutes of the game.
Also Cleveland guard Daniel Gibson was held out of tonight’s game due to a strained neck. He is expected to be ready for the team’s opener against Boston on Wednesday as the injury was considered minor.