For starters, this marks the sixth-consecutive time this season where the Wine and Gold have dropped the second half of back-to-back stints. A heart-breaking buzzer beater in Milwaukee coupled with a bevy of late-game leads slipping away, and the young Cavaliers are showing that energy is not exactly easy to manufacture when it comes to the 96th minute of play.
The Cavaliers, coincidentally, have five more back-to-back slates between now and the first week of January, having their weekends fully booked. Worse, the second night of each pairing but one is on the road — the Cavs will travel to New York, Milwaukee, Boston, Washington and Brooklyn. Looking for more salt in the scheduling wound? This week and next will provide back-to-back weeks where the Cavaliers play four games in five nights, leaving little time for rest and even less time for practice.
Which leads to the next area of concern in rookie shooting guard Dion Waiters.
Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott has a firm policy that states an injured player has to receive full medical clearance and practice prior to suiting up for a game. Irving was fortunate enough to take part in the team’s practice this Monday, allowing him to drop 28 and 11 on Kobe’s Lakers. While Waiters, injuring his ankle in a double-overtime loss against Portland1 has been given the clearance on removing his walking boot, his physical movement has been limited to light jogging and shooting without jumping. In the event Waiters is not cleared this weekend (or early Monday), the team would conceivably be looking at another week without their second-leading scorer.
Over the last two contests, CJ Miles has been more than carrying his weight, providing consecutive nights of 28 points; he’s tallied double-digit scoring in five straight games, hitting three-balls and attacking the rim, getting to the free throw line much more frequently than he was earlier this season. And while Miles’ renaissance has bee welcomed, his potential to score as a reserve has been dampened by Waiters’ absence, leaving the Cavaliers considerably thin at the wing.
If anyone can stomach these four-games-in-five-night blocks, it’s a guy like Miles who has been in the league for eight years. But if anyone needs to return for this hellacious schedule to not continue to take its toll on a young Cavaliers’ roster, it’s Waiters.
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
- Also during the second night of a back-to-back [↩]