Joe G's Practice Notebook
We’re talking ‘bout practice …
Big Man on the Mend … It didn’t seem like any good came out of Saturday night’s 30-point drubbing at the hands of the red-hot Spurs, but that’s not exactly the case.
A pair of Cavs rookies shot the ball well, even if most of those makes came during garbage time. Matthew Dellavedova, in just his second start as a pro, went 6-for-8 from the floor for 14 points. And top pick Anthony Bennett was 4-of-5 with five boards in 12 minutes of action.
But easily the most encouraging aspect of Saturday’s loss was the play of Andrew Bynum, who went 584 days between playing both games of a back-to-back, and looked extremely sharp in his 21 minutes on the floor.
“I just played free,” said Bynum after Cavs practice on Monday in Independence. “And that’s pretty much what I’m going to keep doing, just go out and try to score in the paint, and then defensively, try to get better on that end because I gave up some points to Splitter that I shouldn’t have. We’ll work on it and, as my knees get better, my defense will get better.”
Bynum says he still has pain in his knees, and might for the foreseeable future. But he also said he expects to continue playing “20 minutes a game at this point, pretty comfortably.”
Against the Spurs, Bynum – who grabbed 30 rebounds in the AT&T Center the last time he played there – came out aggressively on the offensive end. The eight-year vet finished with 16 points on 8-for-15 shooting, grabbing a season-high tying six rebounds. In both road games over the weekend, Bynum averaged 12.0 points on 550 shooting (11-of-20), with 3.5 boards and 1.5 blocks in 19.5 minutes per contest.
As Bynum’s minutes (and presence) continue to increase, the Cavaliers youngsters will have to adapt to playing with an offensively-skilled big man – and vice-versa.
“I really don’t know the offense all that well yet; I’m still learning it,” admitted Bynum. “That’s been a bit of an issue with the first unit, but I’m still on limited minutes, so we’re able to just feature me at that time and then go back, so it’s been kind of tough on the team in that regard.
“I kind of have to modify my game – I’m used to just running to the block. But the Triangle is different, obviously. I kind of dictate where the offense goes (in the Triangle) versus this (system, which is) more guard-oriented and screen-oriented. So it’s a learning curve for me.”
Bynum ran the Triangle through his first six years in the league with Phil Jackson’s Lakers. But his single season under the tutelage of Mike Brown is the one that earned him his only All-Star appearance. Coach Brown knows exactly how good Bynum can be on the offensive end – and got a glimpse of it against San Antonio.
“(Saturday) was the first time he’s gotten close to showing everybody the full package of what he can do,” said Brown.
But, of course, any conversation with Coach Brown eventually turned to defense. And he still thinks his starting center can continue to improve on that end.
“(Bynum) still needs to continue to grow on that end of the floor,” tempered Brown. “You guys need to understand, I saw him at his height when he was an All-Star. He was great offensively, very skilled, and he had an explosiveness to him too, that we haven’t seen yet. Whether we see that or not doesn’t matter, because he’s so big and so strong and so long – and very intelligent – so his offensive game will always be there. Nobody’s ever going to block his jump-hook, he’ll always be able to step out to 17 feet and knock that shot down, he’ll always be able to step out to the three-point line and if he’s open, knock that shot down.
“The one thing that he’s still got to work on is his defense. I’ve seen bits and pieces of it throughout the course of the year, but yeah, I thought he could’ve been better defensively,” added Brown, “As well as everybody else.”
Cleveland’s defense will continue to be tested. After facing off against the reigning Western Conference champs on Saturday, they’ll face the beast of the East when LeBron James and the Heat roll into town for what’s sure to be a wild Thanksgiving Eve affair at The Q.
Listen as Andrew Bynum and Head Coach Mike Brown discuss Monday's practice with the media.