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Pluto: The Cavs' bad preseason will likely spill over into games that count
While Cleveland's 1-6 preseason record doesn't matter, Pluto says the Cavs have challenges heading into the regular season next week
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


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Amanda Rabinowitz
 
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The Cleveland Cavaliers enter this much-anticipated season on a low note. The team went just 1-6 in the preseason with most key players sidelined with injuries. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says the preseason doesn't matter. Still, he doesn't expect the team will be very good in the early months of the season.
LISTEN: When will the Cavs games start to count?

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The Cavs avoided a winless preseason by beating the Dallas Mavericks in the final game, finishing 1-6. That's not reflective of a team expected to make another run for a championship. Terry Pluto reminds us not to put any stock in that record.

"Until the preseason games count, nobody's ever going to be playing them to win."

Cotton candy and color commentary
Still, the Cavs really made light of the preseason. J.R. Smith was in stands during one game buying cotton candy. Players Richard Jefferson and Mo Williams did color commentary during game broadcasts. LeBron James took selfies with kids in the stands.

"The real work is actually being done in practice," Pluto says. Furthermore, "there are way too many preseason games." Coaches around the league have been calling for a shorter preseason -- limited to three of four games. 

A rocky start
Silliness of the preseason or not, Pluto expects this team will have problems early on.

"The team we're going to see in November, December and possibly even January really isn't the team that finished the season last year." 

The Cavs are battling injuries to key players. Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert missed the entire exhibition schedule with injuries. There's no timetable for Irving's return from knee-cap surgery and Schumpert is out three months after breaking his wrist during practice. LeBron James and Kevin Love only played in two games apiece. Tristan Thompson is no where to be found because of his contract holdout.  

"If you were to look at the first NBA Finals game -- Cleveland vs. Golden State -- the starting lineup: Kyrie Irving and Iman Schumpert, the starting back court is out. Tristan Thompson is not here. That's three. That leaves you with J.R. Smith and LeBron James. You'll have Kevin Love and they do have Timofey Mosgov, their center."

A veteran returns -- but for how long?
The good news is that Anderson Varejao is back. He tore up his Achilles' last season.

"He hasn't played in ages. He actually had a pretty good preseason. But unfortunately, Andy has missed an average of 50 games per year over the last five years. How long before he gets hurt?"

"The tough thing for coach David Blatt is, he's going to lose some games early in the season. You can't play Kevin Love a ton of minutes; you can't play LeBron a ton of minutes. You can't play Anderson a ton of minutes because they're coming off of different physical things."

"They will say, 'Our season begins at the end of April when the playoffs begin, that's our real season.'"

Is the NBA season too long?
"The NBA doesn't care [because it needs to feed] the insatiable appetite for television for programming. So, while players do complain about too many games, they also like being in a league where the average salary is $4 million. In fact, a year from now, when a 30 percent (increase in the) salary cap kicks in because of a new TV contract, the average salary will be $5 million."

"The playoffs are the real verdict on what kind of team you have. And the preseason isn't even like the preliminary statement. Unless we have players in the regular season getting popcorn, I'm not worried about it," he jokes. 

The Cavs open the season on the road against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, Oct. 27. 

Terry Pluto talks Browns 2-4 record
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