INDEPENDENCE (92.3 The Fan) – Cavaliers coach Byron Scott is a no excuses kind of man.
He was that way as a player and still is as a coach.
However, Scott made a slight exception following Saturday night’s 99-84 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers but he expects it to be the last.
Scott understood that his team was down after learning that center Anderson Varejao had been lost for an undetermined amount of time due to a non-displaced fracture in his right wrist.
It didn’t help that rookie Kyrie Irving sat out for a third straight game with a concussion either.
“I told them I hope that the last game was a one-time hangover,” Scott said. “I understand from a player’s standpoint, when you’re missing someone as important as Andy is to us, I understand that you’re going to probably feel a little disappointment or sadness that he’s not out there because he gives you everything he’s got. But like I’ve said in the past, it gives other guys opportunities and they better be ready to step up and take the challenge.
“Hopefully everybody is over with that and we understand that he’s not going to be here for a few days. We still have to move on.”
Forward Antawn Jamison admitted Monday that replacing Varejao’s energy and effort is impossible to do – especially on a team that is young and inexperienced.
“I think for our young guys, this is a challenge,” Jamison said. “A lot of these guys feel like they should be getting more playing time. Now you’re missing of the best big men in the league, so now is your opportunity to step up and meet that challenge. You can’t replace him, but we’ve got some young talent on this team that I think given the opportunity they can do some pretty good things. It should be fun.
“It’s going to be interesting to see.”
Replacing the 10.8 points and 11.5 rebounds per game that Varejao puts up could be equally challenging.
“Everybody has to chip in a little bit more,” Scott said. “I don’t think we have one guy that can fulfill all the things that Andy brings to the table. Especially our bigs, they all have to do a better job in the roles they have.
“That’s asking a lot.”
Especially of Semih Erden who will start once again in Varejao’s place Wednesday against the Pacers.
Erden finished with more fouls (four) than rebounds (three) and didn’t score in the 14 minutes he was on the floor against the 76ers.
To say he had a tough night would be kind.
“That’s an understatement,” Scott said. “I gotta give him a chance. We’re playing a team in Indiana that has a 7 footer who is pretty good and who just made the All-Star team. I think it’s a great challenge for him. I’m thinking and hoping that last game was one of those where he felt for Andy as well, because a lot of our guys did. And this game he’ll look at as ‘I’ve got a golden opportunity here. I better try and take advantage of it.’”
Roy Hibbert could make it another long night for the wine and gold come Wednesday.
Scott admitted Monday afternoon that he has three or four players that he feels need a good pep talk – and soon.
He declined to name names but it’s a good bet that Omri Casspi is on that list.
Caspi, who averages 7.8 points, 2.9 rebounds as well as 1.3 assists and turnovers per game, has been extremely inconsistent this season.
“The first thing is he has to just play harder,” Scott said. “He has to run the floor better, run the floor harder. And he has to do all the little things we talked about two or three weeks ago. Get in there and fight, rebound the ball. Quit thinking about scoring so much.
“I think if he can just get to where he’s a little more aggressive on the defensive end, everything else will take care of itself.”
Should Irving be able to return to the floor Wednesday, that should give the team a needed shot in the arm – at least Scott hopes so.
“Could be,” Scott said. “We know how important he is to the team as well. If we could get him back sometime this week, I think that would be a big boost.”
Jamison looks to provide a boost of his own – in the form of leadership.
“It’s my job to help them out, communicate with them a little bit more, let them know certain things that we need to do on and off the court,” Jamison said. “This is part of the norm. It’s unfortunate for us, and definitely for Andy after what he’s been through last year and to be playing at a high level to come out with another injury but these things happen and when these things happen certain guys have to pick up the slack.”
Jamison is hopeful that despite the injuries and adversity of late, the Cavaliers won’t fall apart and jump the tracks like they did last year during a record breaking 26-game losing streak.
“It’s giving our young guys an opportunity to show what they’ve got,” Jamison said. “You just have to be positive that we won’t have a repeat of last year. Hopefully I can’t break any more pinkies or anything like that…just go out there and play with the type of passion that you normally play with and just hope for the best.”
Regardless of how long they’ll be without Varejao, it’s time for players to suck it up and move on.
“It’s always tough, especially missing a guy like Andy and the type of year he’s had,” Jamison said. “I thought with a couple more wins he should have been in the All-Star Game but you just can’t replace what he brings to the table. He’s just been playing out of his mind this season.”
The Cavaliers will need a few other players to play out of their minds if they are to remain competitive in the coming weeks.