CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Cavaliers point guard Derrick Rose will be back in the lineup Sunday, Head Coach Tyronn Lue said. He will be taking the floor against the team he left to sign in Cleveland, the New York Knicks.
Rose missed four games with a sprained ankle he suffered in Milwaukee on October 20. In the four games since, the Cavaliers have dropped three of four against all .500-or-worse teams from a year ago.
A lineup with Rose is one that Lue saw as effective in their two prior wins, and plans to stick with going forward. The injury sent Lue’s attempts to manage an already evolving rotation into a frenzy, as Dwyane Wade and Jae Crowder have since shifted to the bench in exchange for JR Smith and Tristan Thompson.
“Those first two games, we were playing well, and especially defensively,” Lue said. “After that, it’s been tough trying to maneuver guys in and out of the point guard position. It’s going to be ups and downs, and we knew that.”
The Cavaliers held both opponents under 100 points with Rose, and have since surrendered 100+ points in all four games he missed.
Already down Isaiah Thomas, Jose Calderon was the only point guard left on the roster. After the 36-year-old quickly faded out of the rotation, Iman Shumpert and LeBron James became the team’s defacto lead guards.
“That was two ball-handlers that went down. So it’s been hard trying to manufacture points and baskets offensively,” Lue added. “I think not being able to run a lot of pick-and-rolls, not being able to play with pace, not being able to come down and initiate the offense through Bron instead of having Bron bring the ball down and try to initiate it through himself.”
Lue’s bunch has run the fourth-least percentage of PnR retained by the ball-handler at 11.7%, and third-least dished to the screener at 4.8%, though both plays have created a top-10 offensive rating in the NBA. Most of them, as Lue said, came with Rose in the lineup.
“I think having four starters back and then adding D-Rose as our fifth starter, I think makes it easier,” Lue said. “We’ll be able to run offense early on. The new guys, you know we put a lot of stuff in offensively, so I think that first unit will be able to get back to who we were, I think offensively and defensively, and to simplify things.”
Depending on Rose’s health is not ideal, though it was a risk Koby Altman and the front office took when they signed the 29-year-old and dealt Kyrie Irving for a point guard in Thomas that will not play until late-December.
Rose has not played more than 66 games in a season since the 2010-11 season.