With five players scoring in double figures and a trio hauling down double-digits in rebounds, the Cleveland Cavaliers easily won their first preseason game, defeating Maccabi Electra, 107-80, at Quicken Loans Arena on Sunday night.
Tristan Thompson, who started at center for the Cavaliers, collected a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 16, followed by Dion Waiters with 15 and LeBron James added 12, with James only seeing action in the first half. Reserve Joe Harris also had 10 in fourth quarter mop-up action.
Kevin Love, who also saw minimal time in the second half, just missed joining Thompson in the double-double category with eight points and 11 rebounds. Topping all rebounders was veteran Anderson Varejao with 15 on the night.
After the game, Varejao acknowledged that the team is far from its peak, saying, “We had some ups and downs, but eventually, we’ll get the system down.” He added, “It was a pretty good first game. Hopefully, we can keep playing like that.”
Maccabi jumped out to an early 8-5 advantage, sandwiching a Guy Pnini layup between a pair of three-pointers. However, after Irving’s steal that was quickly followed by a layup, James connected on a pair of free throws to give the Cavaliers the lead for good at 9-8.
Cleveland would eventually push the lead to 20-11 before Maccabi whittled their deficit to a single basket at 22-20 with 3:01 left in the quarter. After Varejao hit on both ends of a pair of free throws, Matthew Dellavedova then closed out the quarter on a driving layup off the glass at the buzzer to make it 30-24 in favor of the Cavaliers.
Over the first 4:26 of the second quarter, the Cavaliers went on 17-6 run, capped by an Irving three-pointer to make it 47-30. Maccabi would cut the margin to nine with 1:11 left before the break, but the Cavs tallied the final six points of the quarter, capped by a trey from Love with 20.9 seconds left to make the halftime score, 59-44.
Continuing the push after the intermission, Cleveland began with an 11-4 run before Maccabi reduced the deficit to 18 at 70-52. That would be their final push though, as the Cavaliers closed out the third quarter with a 17-8 surge to make it 87-60.
The final quarter was strictly garbage time, with reserves playing extensively, and the Cavs taking their largest lead of the game on a James Jones three-pointer with 3:48 left that made it 104-70.
The next time Cleveland takes the court will be next Saturday afternoon in Brazil when they take on James’ old team, the Miami Heat in a game set to tip off at 5 p.m. Eastern.