Led by Samardo Samuels and Donald Sloan with 14 and 13 points, respectively, the Cavaliers beat Montepaschi Siena 91-85 Monday evening in Cleveland. The Cavs had six players in double figures.
Backing up statements he made earlier saying that first round draft pick Dion Waiters out of Syracuse will have to earn a place in the starting line-up, Head Coach Byron Scott brought Waiters off the bench. Waiters played just over 15 minutes and scored 11 points
“For a first game, I think his debut was successful,” Scott said in a quote posted on the Cavs website. “Same thing with Tyler (Zeller). I thought both guys at the beginning were a little nervous and that’s understandable. But I thought both of them calmed down and at the end of the day they had pretty good games for rookies.”
Zeller, a first round draft pick out of North Carolina, scored 7 points.
Free agent signee C.J. Miles, who scored 10 points on 4 for 5 shooting, got the start at the two-guard position ahead of Waiters.
The other starters were Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao and Kyrie Irving.
Last season’s rookie of the year, point guard Irving scored 10 points and had three assists in his first game back since breaking a bone in his hand during the summer.
This was Montepaschi’s second NBA preseason game in the last three days, as the Italian team lost 106 to 71 to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.
The team is a true European power, as its 2011-2012 Italian League championship was its sixth straight title. The team lost in the Turkish Airlines Euroleauge playoffs to eventual champion Olympiacos, and then lost its head coach when Simone Pianigiani decided to leave his position.
What does a win over this team mean say about the Cavs? Well, not too much so far. It’s just the first preseason game and it’s foolhardy to draw too many conclusions.
If you want to look at it negatively, the Spurs scored more points against the Italian team and allowed fewer points than the Cavs did, so that’s bad. You can’t judge much from one preseason game to the other, though, as coaches are not managing the game like a regular season game. The coaches are managing the game in a way so they can get a look at players in different situations and to see how they do running the offenses and defenses. The games are not so much about the scores, but about how the individual players are doing.
Scott said after the game that he was happy with the ball movement and execution in the second half, while adding that the team still has a long way to go to get ready for the season.
And if you want to look at it positively, while the Cavs may not be ready to compete for the NBA or Eastern Conference titles right now, they definitely could make a run at the Italian League title this season.
And in an ironic twist, the Cavaliers were able to defeat the Italian team on the day that America celebrates the Italian explorer who “discovered” America.
“Nobody knows about Columbus Day (back home),” Montepaschi Siena head coach Luna Banchi said in quotes reported on NBA.com. “It was very nice to stay here for Columbus Day.”
It’s doubtful that many Americans know who “discovered” Italy, so that seems fair.
The preseason continues for the Cavs on Tuesday when they take on the Milwaukee Bucks in Canton, Ohio. The game will start at 7 p.m. and will be shown on Fox Sports Ohio.