Next Tuesday, the Cavaliers tip off against the Washington Wizards in the season opener. A few pesky details have to be decided between now and then. Things like what five players will be on the floor at that tip, and who will still be on the roster.
Coach Scott juggled the line-up for the team’s final preseason game against the Pacers on Tuesday night. “We told the guys at the beginning of camp two spots were pretty much nailed down- Kyrie and Andy. That hasn’t changed.”
Last night’s line-up including Irving and Varejao with Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee and rookie Tyler Zeller starting at center. Scott indicated that had Daniel Gibson not developed concussion symptoms from an errant elbow in practice the other day, he very well could have started instead of Waiters.
What the coach is searching for, is a line-up that works together. One that plays defense as a unit and can run the offense effectively.
Case in point- against the Pacers on Tuesday, Tyler Zeller stepped up his game. He played aggressive and smart basketball.
“I thought (Zeller) played well,” Scott said. “The one thing he did was battled. You know, he went against a guy who’s an All-Star. (Hibbert) I think he played great basketball tonight.”
Zeller finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a big time block against David West. But while Zeller had an outstanding game against an All-Star center, Anderson Varejao seemed to struggle to find his way again as a power forward. Through three quarters Varejao had zero points and three rebounds. Not his usual ‘Andy’ effort. He finished the game with five fouls and seven rebounds with his zero points.
So there lies the rub: Tyler played very well as a starting center, but Varejao had an off game. The whole preseason has been filled with these kinds of pairings. What is coach Scott to do?
Well for starters, the team will continue to practice, and practice hard for the next week. They are nowhere near where they want to be. Truth is, it may take several weeks to figure out what the best line-up is.
Tristan Thompson had a terrible game both offensively and defensively. Alonzo Gee played pretty well. Dion Waiters had a few moments offensively that were really good, especially a couple of two man breaks with Gee. But he didn’t play very good defense. The team as a whole struggled in that department- which you figure a young team will do against a veteran squad like the Pacers.
“There were times when we had four guys do exactly as they are supposed to do, and one guy breaks down. It costs us a basket.”
The team has a week to tighten up before things count.
-For those wondering who the back-up point guard might be, Donald Sloan was the only other PG to play on Tuesday. But he didn’t exactly burn up the court.
-Several players got the DNP-CD who you think would be fighting for a roster spot. I think that shows you how concerned Coach Scott is about finding his first two rotations as opposed to figuring out the last two spots on the roster.
-Byron Scott said many things will determine his starting five. The best five players may not be in that starting group, if that makes the team as a whole better.