by JAKE KAUFFMAN
The new members of the Wine and Gold got off to a little bit of a rough start even before the opening tip of their preseason opener Wednesday night.
“I heard, ‘Starting at 4 from Marquette’ so immediately I was like, ‘Oh, Jae Crowder!” said Dwyane Wade at Thursday’s practice. “So I sitting there like, ‘Okay Jae’ and he’s like, ‘It’s you’, I came out like 3 seconds late. I’ve never started at 4 so I wasn’t even paying attention.”
“I thought it was me, too,” said Crowder. “Until I heard #9, I’m not #9, he forgot what number he was I guess. He just heard Marquette and thought it was me but it was him. I told him to go.”
However once the game tipped and the Cavaliers starting mixing in the new pieces including Wade, Crowder, and Derrick Rose in the starting lineup, Cleveland hit their stride.
“We’re veteran players, we have one common goal and that’s to get better and win the Championship,” said Rose. “We pushing each other everyday in practice, trying to improve our skills and work on our game. With that it should help the team.”
The Cavs had 26 assists on 34 field goals in their opening loss to the Hawks and that number impressed the new point guard.
“That lets you know the ball was moving and we got great cutters, too,” said Rose. “A lot of guys who move well without the ball and we look for one another and I think that should help the team with fastbreaks. Especially when you’ve got a big like Kevin, the way he passes the ball. Yesterday we kind of got confused a couple of times with me coming back to get the ball, I’ve never played with a big like him with the way he outlets the ball, he’s one of the best to do it so once we on the same page it should make my job a lot easier.”
All this ball movement happened last night with LeBron James, one of the best passers in the history of the league, on the bench nursing a sore ankle. Rose’s and Crowder’s eyes lit up thinking about the amount of space they’ll be able to work with once LeBron returns.
“The floor is open for drives and for open shots we have good enough guys on the perimeter that can knock down shots, also guys who can drive to the hole so you can definitely tell the difference, definitely can see the floor is opening up.”
“Man, this the best team I’ve ever played on, this the most space I’ve ever seen on the floor ever since I came into the league,” said Rose. “It looks like I’ll be playing without a lot of double teams or without a lot people loading up to me and this will be my first time experiencing that.”
Coach Ty Lue echoed the same thing as Rose when it comes to spacing and he’s expecting big things from his new point guard in a wide open offense.
“He’s playing at a high level as far as his speed and quickness, being explosive and getting to the basket,” said Lue. “Having the shooters that we have on the floor, he’s going to have a lot of spacing especially playing Kevin at the 5 where if 5’s help, Kevin’s going to be open for shots. As long as you get that big man out of the paint, it’s going to be a lot easier for him.”
Coach Lue also said he liked what he saw from Dwyane and Derrick playing together on the floor despite having similar slashing styles.
“They’ll be fine, they’re both good cutters off the ball, good slashers, both can get to the paint so they’ll be good together and we just have to wait and see how they look and how they feel but I’m excited about it,” said Lue.
Aside from the potential deadly offense, the new Cavaliers say they’ve been welcomed into a great championship atmosphere in Cleveland.
“I’m grateful to be in the position that I’m in,” said Rose. “Even when I came here or when I was considering coming here to be the backup, I knew that I had the stage to really go out there and perform the way I wanted to perform. I really didn’t care about the minutes or the stats, it’s really all about winning, competing and being happy playing basketball again. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to come into a winning culture.”
“You feel it when you first walk into the practice gym, just the energy and the work ethic that it brings and the atmosphere that we work in everyday is very positive for me,” said Jae Crowder. “Very fun to be around, I’m sure (Rose) is having some of the most fun he’s had in his years and this is for sure the best fun I’ve had in a training camp so it’s a good energy. It’s the perfect thing to be around.”