After defeating the Hornets at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Thursday, Cavaliers F Larry Nance Jr. said the following:
“We’re not doing what we did the past two years,” Nance Jr. said. “We’re not winning 19 games this year; we’re not winning 20 games this year; we’re not winning 25 games this year. We’re here. We’re a very real team with very real ambitions.”
After defeating the Pistons 128-119 in double OT on the road, the Cavaliers are now 2-0. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the last time the Cavaliers started 2-0 without LeBron James on the roster was 2000-01. So, Nance Jr. could be right; the Cavaliers could be for real.
It’s clear after two games that the Cavaliers have an electric backcourt in Collin Sexton(game-high 32 points) and Darius Garland(21 points, 11 assists). The two combined for 53 points on Saturday night against Detroit after combining for 49 points against Charlotte in the season-opener. According to ESPN Stat & Info, Sexton joins Kyrie Irving (2016-17) and LeBron James (2006-07) as the only Cavaliers with 25 points in each of the team’s first two games in the last 20 seasons.
“Our two young guards carried us and put us in a position to win,” Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after the game.
Sexton and Garland had great games, but this night was about Cavaliers C Andre Drummond, who returned to Detroit for the first time after being dealt to Cleveland last February before the trade deadline. In his return to Detroit, the Pistons former 9th overall pick in 2012 had 23 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, four steals, and three blocks. He became the second player i n Cavaliers’ history to post a stat line of at least 23 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, four steals, and three blocks, joining LeBron James, who accomplished that feat in 2008.
For Drummond, returning to Detroit brought back many memories.
“Being back in this building again, but on the other side, it was a lot of memories that rushed to my head,” Drummond said.
Just like a lot of people, Drummond is excited to see growth out of Sexton and Garland.
“They came back this season more mature,” Drummond said about Sexton and Garland. “They know the game. They have a year or two under their belt to where they know what the NBA is like and what it takes to be a good point guard, a good shooting guard, and they are both growing each and every day. It’s not going to be a perfect game all the time, it’s not going to come overnight, but they’re willing to work, and they’re willing to put the time into becoming great players, and it’s starting to show on the court.”
Obviously, there is a lot of basketball left, but for a team that won only 19 games last season, 2-0 is something to be excited about. However, they will have a big test against the visiting 76ers(2-0) on Sunday, so going 3-0 won’t be easy. But for now, Sexton is excited about the possibilities.
“I’ve been here for the last two seasons,” he said. “We didn’t start off too good, so year three we’re starting off pretty good. I’m excited to pretty much just see what we do.”