Season-in-Review: C.J. Miles
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Season Overview: If this was one of those post-season exercises where we were handing out letter grades, it would be unfortunate to have to give C.J. Miles an “I” for incomplete. Good thing it’s not.
Still, C.J.’s season is a reminder of what-might-have-been for the Cavs in 2013-14. The injury bug bit the normally-durable Miles, shutting down the final third of what was shaping up as a good season, and forcing one of the squad’s best team players to watch Cleveland’s late-season playoff push in street clothes.
Miles suffered a severely-sprained left ankle in a February 19 victory over the Orlando Magic – Cleveland’s sixth straight. He was limited to just two minutes of action the rest of the season, giving it a go against Miami after missing the previous 12 games. He would be sidelined for the final 13 contests after that.
The nine-year veteran tried everything to get back on the floor, but the swelling and bruising prohibited his return.
Before the injury, Miles was having a strong season after coming into Training Camp in fantastic shape. He began the campaign by netting double-figures in five of Cleveland’s first six games and, by mid-November, Miles found himself in the starting lineup. But a right calf strain sidelined him for four games and C.J. struggled to rediscover his rhythm, struggling through much of December.
But Miles awoke when the calendar turned to 2014 – averaging 19.8 ppg in the first six games of the New Year. During that stretch, he shot 54 percent from the floor and a blistering 58 percent from beyond the arc.
He was also part of one of Cleveland’s most effective combinations on the floor this year – opening up the court for Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. The Wine and Gold were often at their best with that trifecta on the perimeter.
Miles helped the Cavaliers close out a successful West Coast trip with a 19-point effort in a win over Denver, but as the team struggled with consistency upon their return, so did C.J. And when the Wine and Gold ran off their longest win streak in almost four years, Miles was right with the, notching double-figures in five of his last seven contests before the ankle injury against Orlando.
It was a tale of two seasons for the Dallas native in 2013-14. Before the All-Star Break, Miles started 35 games – averaging 9.9 ppg, keying an extended win streak and posting a record-breaking shooting night at The Q. After the Break, he played just two contests before an injury upended the remainder of the year.
Miles is one of three unrestricted free agents the Cavaliers have to make a decision on this offseason. The versatile swingman has been a solid fit through his first two campaigns in Cleveland, but with a new GM hired and new head coach on the way, it should be an interesting summer for C.J.
Highlight: Miles can really stroke it when he’s on, but in a January 7 home win over the Sixers, he was utterly unstoppable from beyond the arc. In that 111-93 victory, Miles went 5-for-5 from long-distance in the first period, tying the franchise record for treys in a quarter. He canned three more before intermission to set the mark for three-pointers in a half. Miles drained two more in the second stanza, setting the Cavaliers’ single-game mark. On the night, C.J. finished 11-for-18 from the floor for a season-high 34 points, adding five boards, two assists and a pair of steals in 31 minutes of action.
Lowlight: After getting off to a strong start this year, Miles’ season hit a roadbump right afterward and from November 9 through December 7, he failed to notch double-figure scoring in any of the ten contests he played in. Miles missed four games in the middle of said slump and watched his teammates drop all four. He scuffled through the remainder of December, but was a new man when 2014 rolled around.
Odds and Ends: By now, most fans know that Miles moonlights as a musician, releasing his first album – “No Camping” – before the season tipped off. He grew up singing in the choir and, by middle school, could play piano by ear. “For me, the biggest thing about living is: anything you have a passion about, you should be able to do if you go about it the right way,” says Miles, of his second love. “If it’s something that you really have a passion for, and something you really want to do, no one should be able to tell you that you can’t do it. And I felt like that’s what the music thing is for me. If I’m out here preaching it, I might as well back it up.”
By the Numbers: 12-11 … Cavaliers’ record in 2013-14 when Miles scored in double-figures.
Looking Forward: Going into the summer as a free agent coming off an injury is not what Miles was hoping for, but he’s been extremely durable throughout his career. Since he broke Utah’s rotation after entering the league out of high school, Miles had never played less than 74 percent of his team’s games. And he fulfills all of David Griffin’s five criteria: He’s a very good shooter, he has good size for his position, he’s got a great basketball IQ, is versatile enough to fit into any scheme or situation and – despite the laid-back personality – is a pretty tough ballplayer between the lines. But where he’ll be suiting up next season is something only time will tell.
Quotable: Miles on the importance of confidence in his shot …
“It’s just about believing in what you’re doing. And then, the confidence from seeing that progress is the biggest thing – being confident in what you’re doing, because there’s no reason not to be confident. I shot almost a thousand shots every day (this summer) and the soft days were 500 shots. And if I’m putting that much work in, I have no reason not to believe that every shot’s going to go in.”