CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Cavaliers were back playing basketball in Quicken Loans Arena for the first time since Game 6 of the NBA Finals for their annual Wine Gold instrasquad scrimmage Sunday.
There was little pomp and circumstance recognizing their win over the Golden State Warriors. They’ll save that for opening night Oct. 25 when they receive their rings before they host the New York Knicks. However, James Jones did address the crowd beforehand, saying in part, “We stand here today NBA champions and that’s all because of you.”
There was also a highlight video shown that featured Muhammad Ali’s famous quip, “The champ is here!” played over clips of the Cavs’ postseason run.
Here’s what stood out from the day:
LeBron doesn’t play
While LeBron James was back in the building and in his practice uniform a day after attending the Kanye West concert at The Q — like many members of the Cavs did — coach Tyronn Lue did not play him.
“Wanted to give LeBron a little bit more rest today,” Lue explained. “Tomorrow he’ll practice full strength and everything will be fine.”
Cleveland hosts the Orlando Magic on Wednesday in its preseason debut. Lue would not say whether James would play. Last preseason, while dealing with a balky back, James played in just two of the Cavs’ seven preseason games. This year’s preseason slate is just six games.
“I’m not sure how many games [James will play],” Lue said, “but it will be light.”
The scrimmage consisted of three 10-minute periods with a running clock and Mike Dunleavy wasted little time making a splash in his debut. Dunleavy went 5-for-6 on the afternoon — all of his attempts were from 3 — and scored 15 points.
Last season while with the Chicago Bulls, Dunleavy shot 21-for-40 on “open” 3-pointers (when the closest defender was six feet or farther away when he took the shot), good for 52.5 percent. It’s a statistic that many in the Cavs’ organization often cite when trumpeting the Dunleavy acquisition.
“We knew he could make open shots,” Lue said. “Last year he shot 52 percent from 3 on open shots. We knew he could make shots, great catch-and-go guy, great passer, an underrated passer and he’s always in the right spot defensively. He’s a great addition for us.”
Dunleavy has been shooting with James after practice during the first week of training camp and recently could be heard cursing himself for having an off day while getting up those extra shots. That wasn’t the case Sunday.
“You have some good days and bad days, you’ve just got to let it fly,” Dunleavy said. “Got to just keep working at it, and things seem to be going well right now, so just keep going.”
Shumpert has play of the day
Near the start of the third period, Kyrie Irving led a fast break and noticed a trailing Iman Shumpert out of the corner of his eye. Rather than making a dump-off pass, Irving tossed the ball off the backboard for Shumpert to catch and finish with a dunk.
“I’m just glad to see him out there at full strength,” said Irving, who was sidelined along with Shumpert at the beginning of last season because of injury. “He looks incredible right now. He shed about five pounds and is just pure muscle right now and he looks really good. I’m proud of him for what he did this summer and what he accomplished.”
Lue had a sarcastic take on what he saw from Cleveland’s starting shooting guard while the J.R. Smith holdout situation drags out.
“It was good to see Iman make a dunk,” Lue quipped. “He’s missed a lot. He’s the most athletic guy I know who misses so many dunks. It was a great play. I’m happy for Iman.”
Backup point guard still up in the air
Felder’s speed was apparent as he darted around the court but he finished just 1-of-6 from the floor with four assists and one turnover. McRae also had trouble with his shot, going 2-for-9 along with four assists and two turnovers. He did tally a steal on the defensive end. Liggins saw less court time than the other two but went 2-for-2 for five points with two rebounds, one steal and zero assists.
“It’s too early to gauge right now,” Lue said.
Cavs get new court
Cleveland replaced the court it played on the past two seasons — one featuring the silhouette of the city’s skyline — with a new design featuring a black border on the sidelines and baselines as an homage to the black alternative uniforms the Cavs wore in their Game 7 win over the Warriors.
While Lue said he “didn’t even notice” the change, Irving appreciated the update.
“It looks like a championship court,” Irving said. “It’s black on the outside and the C in the middle with the sword going through it, that was the first thing I saw. The floor is extremely clean right now. We need to dirty it up a little bit more but we’ve got a preseason game on Wednesday, so I’m looking forward to it.”
The Cavs are still figuring out their plans for the old court, but a safe bet is some of it will be on display while some of it will be sold or auctioned off in pieces in order to raise money for charity.