Ross hasn’t had more than three field goals — nor has he played more than 14 minutes — in a game this month and was just 9-33 from the field (4-for-14 from three-point range) going into Wednesday. And his propensity for momentary defensive lapses, often caused by his inexperience, make it hard for Casey to run him out for extended periods. “If we need shooting, if his shot is going, we may have to give him a look, but right now it’s about matchups, it’s about productivity, it’s about experience of being in those situations. If he comes in and has it going, he’ll be in there but if not, we have to go with Alan or Landry.”
If you thought Andrea Bargnani logging fourth quarter minutes when he didn’t deserve it was a thing of the past, think again. Despite playing with no spark or energy off of the bench in the first half and not touching the floor in the third quarter, Bargnani played the final 10:11 of this game and finished scoreless, with a rebound, an assist and a block to his name in nearly 16 total minutes of action. Meanwhile, Jonas Valanciunas, who was once again a noticeable presence inside (on both ends of the floor) to start the game was left to ride the pine for the entire fourth quarter. Valanciunas finished with five points, eight rebounds and three blocks and was a +14 in 24 minutes, but Dwane Casey obviously thought Bargnani was the better choice down the stretch.
Has there ever been a less likely, amazing bench unit? Ellington, Speights and Walton were given to the Cavs as salary-cap fodder. Livingston couldn’t cut it with the Wizards. CJ Miles ventured into free agency and netted a guaranteed $2 million. None of them has played together before this season. And they’re AWESOME…night-in and night-out polishing off their over-matched substitute foes. Heading into tonight, in 291 minutes, Cleveland outscored opponents by 13 points per 100 possessions when Wayne Ellington played. Against Tonroto, he was +18, Walton ended +20, and Miles +11. Walton posted 5 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists; he and Livingston netted 13 assists with one turnover. Ellington offered 13 points on 70% true shooting, and Miles, 10 and 56%. They are wily and smart, move themselves and the ball well, and have been a great surprise.
Hours before his Raptors laid its second consecutive egg of the week, Casey was asked if he was satisfied his team had got the message about losing focus and looking past opponents as they appeared to do Monday against Washington. “You can’t hit them in the head with a baseball bat,” Casey said. “If Monday night wasn’t enough of a reminder of what happens when you don’t approach the game (the right way), I don’t know what is.”
When the game’s on the line, Dion Waiters wants the spotlight — and the ball. “I live for that,” the rookie said. Waiters scored 23 points, his last two coming on a crucial jumper with 1:43 left, Shaun Livingston added 15 and Cleveland overcame a horrendous start to win its second straight game without an injured Irving, 103-92 over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night. The Cavs made only one of their first 15 shots, but recovered and finished February at 7-5, their first winning month since March 2010, when LeBron James was still around. Tristan Thompson scored 14, Wayne Ellington added 13 and Luke Walton had seven rebounds and seven assists for Cleveland, which closed with a 10-2 run.
Not sure if you know this or not but Thursday is the seventh anniversary of his hiring with the Raptors. How time flies. The question is, from mid-April beyond, is he still the Raptors President/GM? I say he should be. I think he should be given the opportunity to ‘see through’ his plan. Going into this season, I felt that they were a year away and I still feel that way. They’ve blown and lost 13 games where they’ve led going into the fourth Quarter; that’s a major issue that has to be corrected. I think they’re headed in the right direction yet they’ve got a long way to go to become an upper tier (top 4 in East) team. Playoffs this year? Five5 games out with 25 to play. The next few weeks will set the tone with this week being huge setting the table. Bottom line, I trust that he’s got things in better shape than they were a few seasons ago and I firmly believe they’ll be better next year and the year after that.
While Irving and rookie guard Dion Waiters were having their issues learning to play together, Waiters wasn’t ready to lead the Cavs on his own. That is no longer the case. Waiters pitched in a team-high 23 points and dished out six assists as the Cavs held off the Toronto Raptors 103-92 Wednesday night in the first of a five-game homestand at Quicken Loans Arena.
There’s no question the Cavaliers miss All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving. However, rookie shooting guard Dion Waiters is doing his best to make up for Irving’s absence. Waiters had a team-high 23 points and six assists on Wednesday, as the Cavs manhandled the Toronto Raptors, 103-92, before an announced crowd of 13,368 at Quicken Loans Arena. “We were ballin’,” Waiters said.
They let Shawn Livingston, a one-time prospect who destroyed his knee score fifteen points. How does Luke Walton get seven rebounds and seven assists? It happened tonight. How does Andrea Bargnani get playing time in crunch time? Can any assistant coach tell Casey that with Jonas Valanciunas on the court the Raptors are +14, but with Bargnani on the court they are -12? If I can get that stat, I am sure he can. The Raptors have lost two games in a row that they should have won. Many are now wondering if the team still has a shot at getting into the playoffs. Of course they do. They have to win 17 games in their final 24. It can be done, but it means victories against the Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets and or the Boston Celtics on the final night.