Joe G's Practice Notebook
We’re talking ‘bout practice …
Later this week, the Wine and Gold close out the road portion of their West Coast schedule for 2013-14 – with trips to Phoenix, Oakland and L.A. on the docket. When they return, the season is down to its final 15 games and, with the playoffs still within their grasp, Yogi Berra might say that it’s getting late early.
After Monday’s practice, the Cavaliers announced that Anthony Bennett had undergone an exam and MRI that revealed a left patellar tendon strain. The rookie is expected to miss the next three weeks, so the Cavaliers won’t be at full strength as they head west. The good news from Monday, however, is that CJ Miles expects to return from a sprained left ankle during one of the three games on the upcoming trip.Dion Waiters returned to the lineup this past Tuesday night against San Antonio and Anderson Varejao came back on Saturday after missing the previous 12 games with a sore back. Miles has been out since February 21 – and it’s been killing him.
“I hate it, man!” said Miles after Monday’s practice. “Honestly, I’m going crazy; my life is in shambles, I’m just walking around wanting to pull my hair out. I obviously want to be able to help my team, and at the same time, not being able to do what you do, it’s hard on anybody.”
Watch Interview: C.J. Miles
When healthy, Miles has averaged 12.1 points, shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc since January 1. He’s missed the Cavaliers’ last nine contests, and it’s given him time to formulate an opinion on how the club’s been performing heading into the homestretch.
“I think our biggest thing is we just have to keep pushing,” said Miles. “We can’t let ourselves beat ourselves. I think a lot of games, we come to the point where teams make runs or we make some mistakes and it leads to the next mistake or three or four mistakes. Missing a shot, then missing the next three shots, where guys will beat themselves up a little bit over the pressure that we know that it’s in our grasp to be able to make the playoffs.”
Despite dropping four straight, the Wine and Gold are still well within reach of the postseason – trailing the reeling Hawks by 3.5 games with 18 to go – nine home and nine away.
The Cavaliers next six games are an NBA gauntlet, beginning with the upcoming three-gamer. But the Cavaliers have already righted their ship out West once this year – going 3-2 after acquiring Luol Deng in early January. The Wine and Gold are 10-15 against the Western Conference this year, including wins in four of their last six.
This week, the rubber meets the road when the Cavs head West. But they’ve done well before and their head coach is looking for them to repeat that success.
“We need to play well, obviously with where we’re sitting (in the standings),” said Coach Brown. “So it’ll be good to get out and get on the road and try to come together and get some wins. I’m looking forward to it; I think the guys are too. And hopefully, we’ll do what we’re capable of and come back feeling better about ourselves.”
“We have to be able to focus on one game at a time and just know that that’s really all you can do,” added CJ Miles. “You can’t play Wednesday’s game until Wednesday. You can’t play Friday’s game until Friday.”
Mike Brown’s teams have always tried to go one game at a time. And from now until mid-April, they’ll have 18 occasions in which to test that theory.
Listen as C.J. Miles and Head Coach Mike Brown discuss Monday's practice.