We’re talking ‘bout practice …
Work in Progress … After getting their first road win of the season on Saturday night – and a much-needed day off on Sunday – the Wine and Gold were back to work at Cleveland Clinic Courts on Monday afternoon.
Though it came only 11 games in, the victory over Washington could be a turning point to the young season. The Cavaliers had dropped three straight and were down double-digits midway through the second period, but the Cavs got three straight stops and a scorching Kyrie Irving provided a reversal of fortune that got Cleveland back on track.
As Mike Brown said in his postgame comments following the win, he wasn’t even sure how many points Irving had racked up. The Cavs coach was more impressed with how he led his team back from the brink of their seventh consecutive road loss.
“What Kyrie did – I didn’t even know he had 41 – but what he did during the time when we were down was huge,” praised Brown. “It’s one of the first times that I’ve felt, when we were facing adversity, that he really led the team the right way. He’s carried us before a couple times with his point-scoring and that type of stuff, but he had a presence in the huddles (in) every timeout, he had a presence on the floor, he had a presence when he gathered the guys together – continuing to say the right thing, preach the right thing, starting with defense: ‘Get stops and we can get out! We’re right there!’
“That was very encouraging to hear and to see during that time because that’s true leadership.”
The Cavaliers earned the OT win without the services of guard Dion Waiters, who didn’t make the trip to D.C. while nursing an illness that shut him down late last week.
On Monday, Waiters talked about a players-only meeting that the squad held after last Wednesday’s 29-point drubbing in Minnesota.
“We had a player’s meeting (and) I think it was productive,” explained Waiters. “I think it helped, I think we needed it as far as a team and all the built-up frustrations – especially when you want to win and you want to win now. So I think that helped us.”
Players-only meetings aren’t uncommon.
Mike Brown has said it repeatedly this season – some of the team’s practices have essentially taken place during games. Cleveland is still trying to work Andrew Bynum into the starting rotation and some incumbents are having their roles redefined. Brown has already used five different starting lineups through the first 11 games.
Brown pressed the right button this weekend when he reinserted Earl Clark back into the starting lineup – and tinkered with him at the 4 on Saturday. Clark responded by averaging 13.0 points on .769 (10-13) shooting (including .857 [6-7] from long-distance) over his last two starts.
Coach Brown has also maintained that the lineup will likely continue to be a work in progress and said he still wasn’t sure whether Waiters will remain in the starting lineup or come off the bench. At various points, Waiters has succeeded in both roles. He was an All-Rookie First Teamer last year; the Big East’s Sixth Man of the Year the previous season.
“That’s out of my hands,” said Waiters when asked whether or not he prefers to start. “The only thing I can do is come prepared – starting, coming off the bench, whatever it is – whatever I have to do to help this team win.”
Listen as Dion Waiters and Head Coach Mike Brown discuss Monday's practice with the media.