A little over a week ago, on November 20th, the Cleveland Cavaliers lost a home game to the Washington Wizards 98-91 to drop their record to 4-8. After beating the Wizards on the road in the previous game, this was a tough pill to swallow.
Following the contest, Mike Brown told the media that only one player played hard the entire night, rookie G Matthew Dellavedova. When the Cavs took the floor for the next game in New Orleans, the coach wanting to send a message to his team, started Dellavedova.
The wine and gold blew a 12 point lead late in the fourth quarter that night and they haven’t one a game since, getting blown out in their two road games (San Antonio and Boston) and dropping a home game to the Miami Heat.
In both the road games, the contest was basically over in the first quarter. Could that be because Cleveland doesn’t start their best players?
It is time for the coaching staff to go back to basics and start the games with veteran players to keep them in the game right from the get go.
Mike Brown needs to settle on a regular rotation to settle down the mess that the Cavs are becoming.
Let’s start at center. We get that the staff wants to start Andrew Bynum because he can get loose before the first and second halves, and there is no problem with that. The big man isn’t killing the team with his play and he needs the time to get his game back.
At power forward, Tristan Thompson needs to play more. The third year man from Texas is averaging 32 minutes per night, but in the last five games, all losses, he hasn’t played more than 26 per night, and has only scored in double figures once, and also only has one game with more than 10 rebounds.
He needs to play at least 30 minutes per night, and probably should get 33-35 minutes.
The small forward spot is a mess, but Earl Clark has to be shaking his head after last night. On Wednesday vs. Miami, Clark shot 5 of 11 from the floor scoring 13 points. Against Boston on Friday, he received 12 minutes.
Clark may have problems guarding small forwards, but he is a better shooter than Alonzo Gee. If Cleveland has the lead, Brown can give more time to Gee, a good defender to protect the lead.
In the backcourt, most people thought the idea would be that Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, and Jarrett Jack would split the time. We would start Irving and Jack, another veteran who can help the team get off to a good start, and use Waiters as the key offensive player on the second unit.
Irving should be out there for at least 36 minutes with Jack and Waiters splitting the other 60 at the guard spot.
The second unit should be Waiters and Gee, with Anderson Varejao backing up Thompson and Bynum. Brown needs to also work Tyler Zeller and Anthony Bennett in the rotation, and he should let them know when they are going to get into each game and give them time. As young players, they need that type of stability.
That is, of course until GM Chris Grant can deal Varejao to a contending team. The Brazilian has had a fine career in Cleveland, but with Thompson, Zeller, and Bennett needing minutes, it is time to cash in on the asset.
Brown’s statement about playing hard has the Cavs spinning out of control. It’s time to go back to basics and tonight’s game against the Bulls would be the perfect time to do it.