INDEPENDENCE (92.3 The Fan) – Maybe 4 days off wasn’t such a bad thing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Head coach Byron Scott is pretty happy with what he’s been able to accomplish on the practice floor since getting blown out at Houston by 38 last Friday night.
With players and roles being shuffled due to injury, Scott focused on working with both the starting 5 as well as reserves.
“We definitely want to see improvement. We’ve had a couple of days to work on some things on both ends of the floor,” Scott said. “The last two days of practice, yeah, we accomplished some things as far as guys being more comfortable in their roles, because the roles have changed for a number of our guys. We had to adapt to that and move on.”
Much of the focus for Scott the last 4 days has been on 3 players – Shaun Livingston and Wayne Ellington in the starting backcourt and Chris Quinn coming off the bench and running point with the reserves.
“Obviously Wayne [Ellington] at the starting position is asked to play a ton more minutes 30 plus minutes, Shaun [Livingston] is being asked to play more minutes. Something I don’t want to do with him,” Scott said. “So these last couple days have really helped Chris [Quinn] as far as being more acclimated to what we’re doing on the offensive end and playing with Boobie [Gibson] and that second unit. We’ll see how these guys play tomorrow.
“These two days were very good for us in the sense of those guys just playing together on the court.”
The Cavaliers are riding a 5-game losing streak as they prepare to host the Boston Celtics Wednesday night. The Celtics host the New York Knicks Tuesday night in Boston.
Both teams are beat up.
Cleveland is without their starting backcourt in Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. They’ve also spent the majority of the season without Anderson Varejao, who is done for the season after sustaining a knee injury on Dec. 18. He was shut down for the year after a blood clot formed following surgery on Jan. 10.
The Celtics are hanging onto the 7th seed in the East sans Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo.
“With Rondo out, I think they’ve adapted. With Kevin now, they’re going to have to try to adapt a little bit more, obviously because of some of the things he brings to the table on both ends of the floor,” Scott said. “But just like with us. It gives other guys an opportunity to step up and play. They’re obviously playing for something. They’re in the playoffs right now and they’re trying to ease up and see if they can get to that fourth seed so they can have the home court advantage. So obviously they’ve got a lot to play for tonight and tomorrow.”
With Boston’s age and getting them on the back end of a back-to-back, Scott hopes they’ll be able to use that to their advantage.
“The biggest thing for us is we have to come out with a ton of energy against an older, veteran team and really look to put the pressure on them as much as possible as far as getting the ball up and down the floor on the offensive end,” Scott said. “And defensively they’re going to run their offense. They’re going to run their system. You’re not going to speed them up. They’re going to do what they do, but you’ve got to challenge them on the defensive end. Every shot has to be challenge and you’ve got to rebound the ball.”
The Cavaliers said they had no update on Irving or Waiters and their statuses remain unchanged.
Irving has missed the last 6 games due to a sprained left shoulder which he sustained March 10 at Toronto. They are 1-5 over that stretch.
Waiters, who has missed the last 2 games, sat out the remaining 3 quarters in a March 18 loss to the Indiana Pacers with left knee soreness. An MRI revealed a small, loose cartilage fragment in the knee and it hasn’t been determined if he will have arthroscopic surgery to remove it.