The Cleveland Cavaliers did coach David Blatt proud with a 107-80 preseason win over his former team Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv (Israel-Winner League). Blatt’s NBA debut was bittersweet. While it was a good exercise to see the Cavaliers employ the motion offense Blatt used to a great deal of success during his six seasons with Maccabi, he did get his win at the expense of “old friends.”
“I was nervous before the game, but not because it was the first time I coached in the NBA,” Blatt said. “I was playing against my friends.”
Cleveland was dominant from the get-go and scored 30 points in the first quarter, but found themselves just up by six points (30-24). Blatt masterfully led his squad to a strong 59-44 advantage at the end of the first half. LeBron James scored 12 points in the first half, but was rested and did not return in the second half. After the break, Maccabi could not catch up with the Cavaliers and Blatt’s new team cruised to an easy win.
FIBA World Cup M.V.P. Kyrie Irving led Cleveland with 16 points. Tristan Thompson delivered a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Maccabi Tel-Aviv was paced by Sylven Landesberg’s 23 points off the bench. He shot 7-of-13 from the field and was a perfect 6-6 from the line.