Games Back: 4
What we learned against the Spurs: The Cavaliers maybe could’ve made the playoffs if Dion Waiters had been healthy over the last couple weeks.
Dion Waiters scored 24 points in less than 24 minutes. If he would’ve been healthy enough to log 30-plus minutes on Tuesday, the Cavaliers might have been good enough to only lose by something like six to a team who will contend for the Western Conference championship. Instead, the Cavs lost by 21, falling a full game back of the Detroit Pistons for ninth and four back of the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
With 20 games remaining, the Cavaliers have lost five of their last seven and just about slammed their playoff window completely closed in the process.
After the game, I asked Mike Brown about Waiters’ return to the lineup. Brown said that he liked his activity as far as putting the ball in the basket but would have to go back and look at the tape to assess his overall performance. In my assessment, Waiters was desperately missed during the parts of the second and third quarter he spent on the bench. It was during that stretch the Spurs blew the doors of the Cavaliers.
On the strength of a dizzying display of half-court passing—resulting in 39 assists overall for the night— San Antonio connected on 14 made three’s. Backup point guard Patty Mills, who reps Australia with our boy Delly, led the way with four of those long-range bombs.
Waiters told reporters afterwards that San Antonio seems to be able to have all five guys touch the basketball twice before the 24-second clock expires. I laughed when he said it, but can also appreciate how it probably feels that way after spending your evening trying to play defense against all that.
The Cavaliers guard also said that he felt tight after the first quarter on Tuesday and needs to still get his body back ready to play extended minutes. Hopefully he’s able to do that sooner than later to create some momentum for himself as we close out the year.
How hurt is Anderson Varejao?
Ken Carman asked me this question while I was his guest on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland last night. I have no inside information on this, I told Ken, but you maybe have to assume he’s a lot more hurt than we initially realized. With what has been reported to be some variation of a sore knee, Varejao has now missed his 11th straight game. I don’t doubt the big man’s toughness, either. He’s one of the toughest players I’ve ever come across in the League. So I’m assuming he has to be pretty hurt. The timing of his injury may have also been the final nail in the lottery-bound coffin of the 2013-14 Cavaliers.
Is David Griffin your guy moving forward?
This was another question from the great Ken Carman last night. After mulling this topic over the last couple weeks, my reply was as follows: Kyrie Irving is the player who the Cavaliers will continue to build their team around. David Griffin spent time with the Phoenix Suns building a winning team around another point guard who kinda plays like Kyrie Irving (Steve Nash). So if you’re maybe looking for a GM who is experienced in building a winning program around a point guard who sorta plays similar to Kyrie Irving, than Griffin could be the guy to do that. The ‘what type of offense do you then suppose we’d run’ question would of course be the first one he’d be charged with answering.
Click below for special offer to StepienRules readers for Z Night Tickets. Password is "rules".