Las Vegas Summer League: Cleveland Cavaliers 82, San Antonio Spurs 70
LAS VEGAS—Between the highlight plays from the Las Vegas Summer League that you’ll find on your nightly SportsCenter, confusion runs rampant. Whether it’s Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt trying to get a sub from his bench but seemingly not knowing the names of his players as he points at them to check into the game or a momentary delay when the Spurs have just four players on the floor, the summer league is far from a smooth operation on the floor.
If the NBA Finals are the peak of the season where, theoretically, the level of play is at its highest, the Las Vegas Summer League is the championship series’ humble roots.
Two games into their Sin City campaign and the two constants for the San Antonio Spurs have been slow starts and poor offense. The Spurs dropped their second LVSL game on Sunday afternoon at the Cox Pavilion 82-70 to the Cavs thanks in large part to a 34 percent shooting performance.
“Offensively we’re going to be a work in progress,” Summer Spurs head coach Ime Udoka said later. “We have a few practices to grow and build on that, but we did have a slow start and we can’t expect to be down 20 in the first half and expect to win.”
In a matchup anticipated (by us bloggers, at least) as a showdown between #1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins and last pick of the first round Kyle Anderson, it was Deshaun Thomas (Spurs) and Will Cherry (Cavs) stealing the show (relatively speaking) with 21 points apiece.
Like in Friday’s win over the Kings, the Spurs dug themselves a hole early, scoring just 11 and 12 points in the first and second quarters, respectively. 23 points in a half is bad, even by summer league standards. The Cavs scored the first ten points of the game and led 18-2 at one point. Unlike Friday, however, San Antonio was unable to complete the comeback and Cleveland got the win.
After opening the summer league going 5-for-18 and being unable to “throw it in the ocean,” Austin Daye continued his to shoot at below freezing temperatures in the triple-digit desert. Daye’s 3-for-11 afternoon against the Cavs puts him at 28 percent on the week. With the frustration of another poor shooting game building, other parts of Daye’s play suffered.
“He let his offense affect his overall game,” Udoka said. “I talked to him a little bit after the game — told him he has to play through it. We’ve got a new group out here, not a lot of guys with NBA experience.
“You’re a veteran out here, you’ve got to carry this team, but also not let your offense dictate the rest of your game.”
Daye having a poor shooting week isn’t the worst thing in the world, I don’t think the Spurs coaches and front office personnel in town will lose any sleep over the offensive struggles of their 13th man, but it affecting the areas of Daye’s game that they really want to evaluate and develop is. The Spurs are here to see how well Daye can defend and rebound against the league’s power forwards and if some missed shots are preventing him from making strides in those areas, well, they can’t be pleased.
In just his second taste of NBA action, first round pick Kyle Anderson had a rougher go round than on Friday night. Tasked with handling the ball more and initiating the offense in pick-and-rolls in a win over the Kings in game one, Anderson stuffed the stat sheet with six points, six assists and four rebounds.
On Sunday against Cleveland, Anderson was tasked with defending #1 pick Andrew Wiggins and struggled offensively to the tune of two points on 1-for-7 shooting and no assists.
“Last game we had Marcus Denmon starting at the point, and he’s more of a 2, so we had Kyle helping out with the ball-handling,” Udoka said. “Today we had Darius [Morris] and Bryce [Cotton] more at the point guard, but he was concentrating on guarding (Andrew) Wiggins, they had their own matchup there, it just ended up that he didn’t have as many opportunities.”
Defending an athlete like Wiggins would be tough for anyone, especially so for someone with foot speed like Anderson. Despite his limitations though, Anderson helped harass Wiggins into a 3-for-11 shooting performance and picked his pocket clean on a dribble drive out near the 3-point line.
Anderson and the Spurs aren’t setting the world on fire right now, but then again, no one in Las Vegas really is (except Dante Exum). Things are going to be a mess on the attack for this Spurs team as they figure out how to play with each other and piece together some sort of an offensive system. It might not be fun to watch, but what else are you going to do, watch baseball?