Playing in the home of Xavier university should have been a happy occasion for David West, but it was mostly about the Cleveland Cavaliers beating the Indiana Pacers 98-93 with quite a performance from LeBron James, who had a night off from the previous game, looking like the rest did him a world of good.
It wasn’t exactly what David Blatt would have loved to see from his team this season. James scored 16 points in the first half and added 10 more in the third quarter in a one man show that didn’t exactly set the team apart from the Pacers, who started with Solomon Hill in the lineup at small forward while Rodney Stuckey partnered with George Hill in the backcourt. Frank Vogel believes that despite everyone believing his team is going to sink badly, good things will come from this season.
Kyrie Irving is still out of commission and Kevin Love seemed to have wasted his ammo in the previous game, scoring only 5 points on 1-of-6 from the field. Dion Waiters had a slow night as well on 4-of-14 from the field, but Matthew Dellavedova put on quite the show with 14 points at point guard, with no LeBron James bumping him while trying to set a screen for the opposing team. He never played for the Pacers, so there was no confusion.
James finished with 9-of-12 from the field including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, playing next to Brendan Haywood in the lineup. Haywood might be a useful player to have off the bench, but considering his non-guaranteed contract, the Cavaliers might not be hanging on to him for the entire season, as he’d make an excellent trade piece for some team who’d love to dump his salary from next season’s cap situation.
James isn’t going to have a lot of games in which he takes over and ignores everything else on the court. If he’s scorching, why not, but when it’s just him against the world, it probably means that something isn’t working all that well. For the preseason it’s more than OK and obviously makes for a great headline. But once the regular season begins and also in the playoffs, it’ll have to be about sharing the load among the big three and guys like Waiters and Thompson as well.
And the Pacers? It’ll take big seasons from George Hill and Roy Hibbert to erase what happened this summer. It’ll take Rodney Stuckey playing like a better player than he has shown us over the years he’s been in Detroit. It’ll take Vogel believing in someone like Solomon Hill or Chris Copeland and giving them the ball. It’ll be about David West maybe being the most important players on this offense. It’s going to take a lot, maybe too much for the Pacers to handle in order to remain one of the better teams in the East.