By Ryan Isley, Special to cleveland.com
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio – When the Cleveland Cavaliers take the floor to open the regular season Wednesday night in Toronto, it will be the first time they have done so without LeBron James since 2013.
It also brings a new offensive philosophy.
The days of standing around and watching James dominate the ball are done. The Cavs will now look to play faster, as well as pass the ball more.
“We have to play with pace,” coach Ty Lue said. “The style of play we want to play, I think everyone is involved that way. I think everyone has fun that way.”
Getting more players involved will be a key because the Cavs are coming off a season in which James led the Cavs in scoring in 63 of 82 games and in all but one postseason game. But the Cavs believe they have plenty of guys who can step up on any given night.
“We have a lot of guys on the team who can score,” guard Rodney Hood said. “It’s going to be different guys on different nights who put up numbers. We just have to play the game the right way.”
If the Cavs want to rely on one player to shoulder the bulk of the scoring load, Lue believes power forward Kevin Love is up to the task. Love averaged 26.1 points in his final season as the top offensive option for the Minnesota Timberwolves before being traded prior to the 2014 season.
“I think Kevin can be that guy,” Lue said. “I think Kevin now being the number one option, being able to create his own shot, get to the free throw line and post up, but also his passing to make his teammates better is going to be good for us.”
But when it comes to the other options behind Love, the roles aren’t as defined.
“We have to do it by committee,” Lue said. “We are going to need five or six guys in double figures.”
So far, the players have bought in to what Lue and the coaching staff are selling.
“T Lue has done a great job,” Hood said. “He is just asking us to be ourselves. If we all chip in and just play our game, we will be a really good team.”
Lue wants to push the ball, make passes and be unselfish. If someone doesn’t want to do that, they will find a spot on the bench. That includes the starters as well.
“They are going to have to. If not, guys are going to sit down,” Lue said. “Everybody. Do the right thing.”
The players don’t think it will be a problem.
“You have guys who want to play the right way, you have guys who move the ball,” Hood said. “If we just play unselfish basketball, I think we will be fine and we will be on the right track.”
Roster moves: The Cavaliers trimmed three players from the roster before the start of the season Saturday, waiving forward Bonzie Colson, guard Kobi Simmons and forward Emanuel Terry.
Colson, a 6-6 wing, appeared in three preseason games, averaging 3.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in 9.7 minutes. Simmons averaged 4.0 points in 10.9 minutes over four games. Terry played in the preseason finale.
Ryan Isley is a freelancer from Akron.