Bench Bunch Continues to Propel Cavs
Providing The Spark Entitlement
The history of the Eastern Conference in the 90s is littered with the trail of teams that tried – and failed – to get past Michael Jordan’s Bulls. Unfortunately, the Cavaliers are among that fraternity.
This year, the Cavaliers bench is looking to become the highest-scoring second unit in franchise history – currently ranked 5th in the Association, averaging 40.5 points per contest. They’re looking to best the mark of the 1991-92 Cavaliers squad that won 57 games, kayoed the Nets in the First Round, ended Larry Bird’s career in the Semifinals and took the eventual NBA Champion Bulls to six games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
After a pair of injury-plagued seasons, the Cavaliers bulked up their depth in the 1991 offseason – drafting Terrell Brandon with the 11th overall pick and acquiring veteran guard John Battle through free agency.
Battle and Hot Rod Williams – one of the top sixth men in franchise history – averaged double-figures that season and Brandon saw action in all 82 games as a rookie. Battle tallied double-figure scoring in 44 games that season and Hot Rod Williams doubled-up in a dozen contests off the bench. Even Steve Kerr notched double-figures on 11 occasions.
But neither Cleveland’s deep bench – nor the three All-Stars (Larry Nance, Brad Daugherty and Mark Price) – were enough to eventually get past MJ and the Bulls.
After not seeing much floor time early, what’s it been like working your way into the rotation?
Cedi Osman: For me to be in the rotation and play with the second unit is very important. Thanks to my teammates, I'm confident. Also, thanks to the coaches -- they believed in me enough to play with the second team. I'm just doing my best to bring the energy. And if I'm able to play with confidence, it's because my teammates and coaches believed in me.
Was it (or has it been) difficult staying patient?
Osman: This in my first year and I know what's going on: I know we're a Championship team and we have a lot of good players -- and I know that I have to wait for my time, so I'll just stay patient and work hard.
Any concern about minutes with guys like I.T., Shump and D. Rose returning to the rotation?
Osman: I mean, those are the players who are definitely going to be in rotation. But I'll always be ready whenever -- however many minutes I can get. When the time comes, I'll be ready and I'll take that challenge.
BY THE NUMBERS
Kevin Love, on the bench’s fourth-quarter defense in their January 2 win over Portland …
“I think our bench was great for us tonight. They really picked us up after a little bit of a slow start. We didn’t put everything together in that first unit, but they were able to pick us up throughout the entire game and the fourth quarter was no different. So they were able to keep Portland at a distance, and that carried through throughout the entire game.”
LeBron James, on Dwyane Wade’s leadership in the second unit after a big comeback victory over Milwaukee …
“That’s what we got him here for. He’s our second leader. He makes sure those guys are ready to go. Kyle [Korver], Jeff [Green], Channing [Frye] when he’s been in the lineup. He’s the orchestrator of all that. Obviously, tonight he showed what he’s capable of still doing. [Whether that be] getting in the lane, hitting step back threes, [and] just making sure the passes are on time and on target to our players. It’s a luxury to have a guy like that come off the bench. It’s almost like [Joe] Montana and Steve Young.”
Dwyane Wade, on the second unit’s mentality following a one-sided win over the Sixers …
“We try to be a positive force for this team every night. As much as we want to, we know some nights it’s not going to be that way. But after last night, I felt tonight we came in and we played. I thought last night, we were a little bit too robotic in the way we ran the offense and the way we played. Tonight, I thought we just flowed and played, and it was good to have the bench mob back to doing what we normally do for this team.”