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If Friday’s practice was the least physical and most educational of the week, Saturday’s session was definitely the most competitive.
Players still had plenty of information to absorb, but the squad scrimmaged hard when drills and walk-throughs wrapped up. The competition was real and even some tempers flared, but that’s par for the course for a team that’s faced no one but each other for the past five days. By the time San Lorenzo rolls into Cleveland on Monday night, the fellas will be champing at the bit.
Even Saturday’s drills were competitive as the team ramps up for the preseason, with losers doing push-ups afterward.
Coach John Beilein has been specific about not naming starters just yet, so read nothing into the team breakdown in Saturday’s scrimmage, but one squad featured John Henson, Collin Sexton, Kevin Love, Cedi Osman and Brandon Knight vs. a quintet consisting of Matthew Dellavedova, Tristan Thompson, Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson and Kevin Porter Jr.
One of the most encouraging signs of the say was the appearance of rookie Darius Garland during Saturday’s scrimmage session.
The rookie hasn’t seen live contact through the first week of Training Camp and Coach Beilein stated that he won’t do so until he’s 100 percent. He looked pretty close to triple-figures on Saturday, showing off his sneaky quickness, his deft handle and, most of all, his silky jumper – splashing home a pair of a catch-and-shoot jumpers that showed exactly why Cleveland tabbed him with the 5th overall pick.
As he had before getting injured last season, Tristan has re-established himself as the Cavaliers veteran leader. He’s been the team’s most vocal leader and has backed it up on the floor; he’s been competitive, focused and intense in both drills and scrimmages.
Delly has re-established himself as a coach on the floor, and his work with the rookies will go a long way this season. At several points during practice, the seventh-year man was spotted talking things through with the youngbloods.
Nance is another of Cleveland’s most cerebral players, and on Saturday he talked about the challenge of having to pick up a new system.
"It’s a lot of information,” said Nance. “We practice a long time and most of it’s listening. We’re doing a whole lot of listening and dummy work – by dummy work, I mean going over plays without a defense on us – but (Coach Beilein) has to implement an entirely new system, one that we haven’t run in our lives. So it’s been a learning process, that’s for sure.”
Even after they welcome San Lorenzo into the newly-renovated Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Monday night, the Cavaliers will continue implementing and getting familiar with the new staff’s system. The season opener is now less than three weeks away.
* Anyone who’s played organized sports growing up has probably played with a guy like Kevin Porter Jr. He’s that guy who doesn’t leave a real impression during drills and walkthroughs then blows your mind in a game.
On Saturday, Porter was a live wire in the team’s scrimmage – hitting two big buckets and drawing hoots and hollers from the squad. When things get competitive, the young Seattle native is a baller.
Or, as Nance described him …
"(Porter)’s a gamer. I think that’s the best way to put it. He’s a gamer. We can be going through drills and that doesn’t best suit him. We can be walking through drills and that doesn’t best suit him. But you roll that ball out there and say ‘get a bucket …,’“ praised Nance, adding, “I’d love to see a one-on-one game with him and Jordan Clarkson. It might never end.”