We’re talking ‘bout practice …
Conference Call … The Cavaliers have won two straight – including last night’s virtually wire-to-wire victory over Denver – but still sit six games under .500. Lucky for them, they’re in the East and are current just 1.5 games out of the final playoff seed.
Only two teams in the East are above .500 – (Indiana and Miami are a combined 31-6). And the next level of teams is at exactly at the break-even mark, including Friday night’s opponent, the Atlanta Hawks.
Coach Mike Brown, who has some true connections to the brain trust in Atlanta, isn’t surprised by the Hawks’ early-season success.
“If you think about everybody they have on their team, they’re used to winning,” said Brown. “And I think that’s a pretty big advantage when you have guys who have won in the past recently. Because there’s just a sense of understanding of how you’ve got to go about your business on a daily basis, especially on the road. And all their guys, when you think about it, have been in winning programs.
“The head coach (Mike) Budenholzer, he’s a good coach and he’s paid his dues and is well-deserving of that job. But he’s a winner. And you talk about Danny Ferry, he’s a winner too. So to have the type of culture they probably have down there just bodes well for them. And the way the East is struggling, you sit at .500 and you’re in third place or something like that.”
The Hawks play the Clippers on Thursday night before welcoming the Cavs on Friday. Atlanta is 10-10 this season, despite losing five of its last six. And they still have weapons all over the floor, including Jeff Teague, Paul Milsap (who’s averaging 19 points and 12 boards over his last two), Al Horford (who’s scored in double-figures in every game this year) and Kyle Korver (who could set the NBA record on Friday night for the longest streak of hitting at least one three-pointer in 90 straight games).
The East has been so underwhelming this year that the Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns recently tweeted (tongue in cheek) that they’d like to join the Conference. And it’s gotten so ugly in the Big Apple that NBA TV’s Chris Webber recently dubbed Thursday’s Knicks-Nets battle “the Panic Bowl.”
Jarrett Jack tried to make sense of the disparity.
“It would make sense to say that the better players are over there (in the West), but you watch the All-Star Game and the East normally wins, which is kind of backwards,” said Jack. “You can say all that, but the NBA Champion and the East have won the title the last two years. I don’t know why, geographically, it’s like that. But we’re trying to do our best to hit our stride now and make our way up the standings.”
The Cavaliers can make some hay in the lackluster Eastern Conference over the next few days. They face the slumping Hawks (in the second game of a back-to-back) on Friday, welcome the Clippers (who they’ve beaten in 11 of their last 13 meetings) on Saturday and the Knicks (who’ve lost nine straight coming into tonight’s battle in Brooklyn) on Tuesday night at The Q.
Canton Bound … As the Cavaliers departed for the ATL on Thursday after practice, the team announced that center Henry Sims and rookie guard/forward Carrick Felix were assigned to the Canton Charge on Thursday.
Sims appeared in six games for the Wine and Gold this season after making the club out of Camp, averaging 1.7 points and 2.8 rebounds in 5.8 minutes per game. Felix, who battled a sports hernia throughout Camp and the early part of the season, has appeared in three games, averaging 1.3 points in 5.0 minutes per contest.
Both players will be available for Saturday night’s matchup in Erie as the Charge face off against the BayHawks.
Listen as Jarrett Jack and Head Coach Mike Brown discuss Thursday's practice with the media.