If you wondered what the Cavaliers rotation would look like to close out this season without Ramon Sessions, yesterday served as a pretty glaring example. Kyrie Irving played the entire third quarter, logging 36 minutes for the game, and the Cavs needed him to then play the entire 4th to try to do anything with that 8 point diff they managed to head into the final period with. Byron said after the game that Kyrie was gassed though, and he was, so he didn’t go back in until the 5 minute mark. Asking him to play any more than 36 minutes is a bit excessive too, and I appreciate Byron drawing that line where he did.
Kyrie’s 36 minutes might’ve been enough too if Daniel Gibson had a better day. Gibson played 23 minutes of relief, but he didn’t play too well unfortunately. He shot 1 of 6 from the floor in 23 minutes, had 2 assists and 1 turnover, but it really doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter that Anthony Parker got torched by Joe Johnson for the majority of the 28 points he scored, or the fact that even with Josh Smith playing like he wished he was traded the Cavaliers never really had a chance. This thing’s about the future right now, and I’d rather have that extra first round pick acquired in that Lakers deal for Sessions than have seen the Cavaliers improve their record to 17-25 on Sunday. Assuming I can choose such things.
Kyrie Irving finished those 36 minutes of work with a relatively quiet 19 points and 10 assists, and Alonzo Gee played a great game with 20 points and 9 rebounds too. Both encouraging developments I think. I also think it was encouraging to hear Byron Scott say he made the decision to start Tristan Thompson for at least “the next 15-20 games” at the Center spot too, even though Tristan didn’t light the world on fire yesterday. He was out there competing for 35 minutes, finished with 7 points and 6 rebounds, and I’m sure he learned a couple things in the process. I think it may also help him to know that he will be starting going forward, and those 30+ minutes a night are something he can expect down the stretch.
The Cavaliers are in New Jersey tonight, and the Nets now have Gerald Wallace to pair with Deron Williams as a heads up. Anthony Morrow can shoot it too, he just scored 20 last game, and this will be a pretty tough test for these Cavaliers. Deron Williams gave Kyrie fits when they were in Cleveland last time, even though Kyrie did then score a thousand points in the fourth quarter that night, but it will be interesting to see how that match-up goes for Irving on the defensive end this next time around.
Donald Sloan’s Cavs debut only last 1:21 seconds, but I expect him to get some substantial back-up PG minutes as early as tonight. By that I’m thinking he gets around 15 minutes, just a guess though. He is a bigger PG, and I think he’d match up okay size-wise with Williams at different points in the game, so it might be an ideal time to through him in the mix. Manny Harris may get some additional burn too, after scoring 4 points in 1:21 on Sunday (108 points per 36 minutes), and I hope Samardo continues to play over Hollins and Semih as well. No reason not to do all those things at this point, assuming there ever really was one.