In the Wine and Gold’s Friday night finale at this year’s Summer League in Vegas, their back-to-back top picks – Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins – took the night off and allowed some of the subs to shine. They did exactly that, and Cleveland featured five players in double-figures to close out the week in style – topping Miami, 95-90, to head home with a 4-1 mark.
The Cavaliers had planned since the start of Summer League to play Bennett and Wiggins just four games unless there was a chance to win the tournament. The Canadian duo warmed up, but went on to watch the victory from Cleveland’s bench.
“Both of those guys played a lot of minutes in the first four games and we didn’t want risk injury or overdo it with them,” said head coach David Blatt. “Both guys had very, very good performances here and obviously we’re looking forward to working with them going down the line.”
The Cavs were paced by guard Steven Gray, who followed up a solid performance against Houston the previous evening with a 17-point effort on Friday night. The former Gonzaga standout came off the bench to go 6-of-11 overall and 4-of-8 from beyond the arc – adding five assists, three boards and a steal.
Dwight Powell, the 45th overall pick in this June’s Draft who was acquired by the Cavs less than a week ago, followed up with 15 points and a game-high nine boards – going 4-for-7 from the floor and 7-of-7 from the stripe. The rookie big man from Stanford added two helpers and a blocked shot.
”I thought Dwight was outstanding today,” praised Coach Blatt. “He got more minutes and he played with more confidence he was able to show some of the things that he could do. Obviously, he really, really showed himself well. We didn’t bring him to the Cavs for no reason and we’re excited about his future.”
Cleveland never trailed on Friday night and improved its lead to as many as 13 in the second quarter, but Miami got to within a deuce, 92-90, with 24 seconds to play. But Gray split a pair of free throws and Will Cherry canned both of his to ice the win.
Shane Edwards, one of Canton’s most consistent performers last year, was good again for the Cavs on Friday.
In his last three games of Summer League, the crafty forward doubled-up against Philly with 14 points and 11 boards, went 4-for-4 from the floor on Thursday night against Houston and closed out the trifecta with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting in Friday’s win over Miami – adding three boards, an assist and a blocked shot.
Alex Kirk, a rookie center from New Mexico was almost as good – notching 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting to go with three boards, an assist and a steal.
Cleveland’s second-round pick from this past June’s Draft, Joe Harris, rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures, scoring all 11 of his points in the first period. The four-year guard from Virginia pitched in with four assists, a pair of rebounds and a steal.
Will Cherry, who got his second straight start in place of Matthew Dellavedova and has been spectacular at times for the Cavs Summer League squad, netted nine points and led both teams with six assists.
Both teams shot the ball well on Friday. Cleveland shot 53 percent from the floor; Miami, 50 percent. The Cavaliers outrebounded the Heat, 32-24, and handed out four more assists than Miami.
The Wine and Gold wrap up an eventful week in Sin City – closing out Summer League exactly one week after learning that the greatest player in the world will come to Camp as a Cavalier. Anthony Bennett looked like a different man after enduring a difficult rookie season and this year’s top pick, Andrew Wiggins, played well on both ends in all four contests.
And the Cavs new head coach got some valuable experience that he’ll be bringing to Training Camp in just about two months.
”I thought we had a great week – we were 4-1 and I thought we played some good basketball,” concluded Coach Blatt. “For me (this experience) was no less important than for the players, and I’m glad that I did it. I learned a lot and I benefitted a great deal from this time.”