The Cavaliers' newly acquired big man, Marreese Speights, made a lot of friends in Cleveland on Friday night.
In his Cavs debut, after arriving from Memphis earlier this week, Speights provided a combination of NBA-caliber size and athleticism that the Cavaliers have desperately lacked for the last three seasons.
More importantly, however, is that Speights took the floor—after only a couple hours of learning the Cavaliers' system—and played with passion.
His attitude and energy were both refreshing and contagious for a Cavs team who would've lost by 15 if he hadn't arrived.
Following the come-from-behind victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, I caught up with Mo Speights to talk about all that.
StepienRules: First experience in Cleveland, with these Cavs fans, what was it like out there with the crowd getting behind you guys late?
Marreese Speights: It felt good, it always feels good to have the crowd get behind you. This is a great organization, great city and I'm glad we got the win tonight.
SR: What can Cavs fans expect from Mo Speights this year?
MS: I'm just going to go out there to play hard every night. Help my teammates, and just get wins, and try to do the best we can do to get some wins on our record.
SR: How excited are you about the type of minutes you're going to get here? Playing behind Gasol and Randolph in Memphis you were getting about 15 minutes a game, you're going to get a lot more than that now. What do you feel like you can do with those type of minutes?
MS: I can do a lot with those [minutes]. I knew before I got here that this was a chance to come over here and get some wins. That's why I accepted the trade and came over here. I'm excited to play with these young guys, get the fans back up like it is now and just finish the year good.
SR: What are your first impressions from playing with the Kyrie Irving?
MS: Yeah, I always knew he was good, but playing with him is totally different. He's got things I've never seen before, so it's going to be a good rest of the year.
Despite the Cavaliers' 12-32 record, it sounded like a playoff game inside Quicken Loans Arena last night.
In 18 minutes of work, Speights finished with 10 points on 4-7 shooting to go along with six rebounds and two steals. The All-Star Kyrie Irving was of course brilliant with 35 points while Tristan Thompson celebrated his bobblehead night with 18.
Previously, in 40 games for the Memphis Grizzlies this season, Speights had played over 25 minutes only twice. By season's end here in Cleveland, I expect him to average between 28-30.
If last night is any indication, the player drafted three spots ahead of J.J. Hickson in 2008 has plans of doing big things with those minutes moving forward.