Alright, Cavs fans… Tell me if you think this sounds familiar:
“ That was the bottom line and we have to find a way to [play hard] for 48 minutes. [...]
“The biggest thing is always, from a coach’s standpoint, that the one serious thing that I have control over is minutes. If guys are not playing as hard as I think they can play or should play, then (I will) just take them out and you put the second unit guys in there.”
If you managed to make it through the entire Cavaliers-Magic contest (won by the Magic, 97-86), which was decidedly finished after one quarter of play, you may have heard Byron Scott say these exact words during his postgame address. Then again, if you did not make it through the full 48 minutes (like most of the Cavaliers), you may have assumed these quotes came from another game. And you wouldn’t be far off.
On February 9th, when the Cavaliers were in the midst of a then-26-game losing streak, Scott said the following:
“It is that simple, we did not compete and did not come ready to play. [...]
The only thing you can do [as a coach] is take away minutes.”
Earlier in the epic streak, Scott toyed (or “tinkered”) with the rotation, providing heavy minutes to players like Manny Harris and even giving a few starts to Christian Eyenga. As the season has worn on, both players have seemingly fallen to the bottom of the depth chart once again, but it was these two players who excelled when called upon in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s loss.
Ramon Sessions, Alonzo Gee, Anthony Parker and Samardo Samuels (four of the starting five) combined to shoot 9-of-30 from the floor and committed nine turnovers. Harris and Eyenga would come off of the bench and total 20 points with Harris (who did most of his damage from the freethrow line) adding five assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Daniel Gibson also had a welcomed bounce-back performance, hitting seven of his 11 shots for 16 points to go with six assists as a reserve.
Naturally, as the starters have struggled and the younger reserve players played hard, Scott has once again began to question his starting rotation. Harris, Eyenga, Gibson, and Luke Harangody could all be supplanted into the starting unit if deemed appropriate. With another practice occurring on Tuesday, it would not be far-fetched to have Baron Davis inserted into the starting five if he is medically cleared to play.
The Cavaliers will practice on Tuesday afternoon and will host the New Jersey Nets (sans Deron Williams) on Wednesday evening. It’s worth noting that the Cavs will have no more than one day off in between games from here out – the marathon season is almost at an end.
(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)