INDEPENDENCE — If Zydrunas Ilgauskas is upset about his lack of playing time in the playoffs, he’s not showing it.
Ilgauskas, who has not seen action since playing five minutes in Game 1 of the Cavaliers’ Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Boston Celtics, has no plans to discuss his plight with coach Mike Brown and vows to be ready if his name is called tonight in Game 5.
“Coach Brown has a lot on his mind,” Ilgauskas said Monday at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “I’m a veteran player. I don’t need a babysitting service.”
Ilgauskas, who re-signed with the Cavaliers after the mandatory 30-day waiting period following his February trade to the Washington Wizards and eventual buyout of his contract, said he would do the same thing all over again.
“When I came back, I knew what the roster looked like,” he said. “This is where I wanted to be.”
Ilgauskas, the franchise leader in games played, was not even Cleveland’s fifth big man Sunday in Game 4, as even Leon Powe, inactive for the first seven games of the postseason, played the final 49 seconds of the first quarter.
Already stuck behind starters Shaquille O’Neal and Antawn Jamison as well as reserves Anderson Varejao and lately J.J. Hickson, Ilgauskas has been around long enough — he was drafted in 1996 — to know that could change at any time.
“I’m staying ready,” he said. “I’m staying in shape. That’s about all I can do.
“It’s hard for anybody,” he added. “Everybody wants to play, but we’ve got a lot of guys who can play. I always was a team player. … We have a job to do as a team. I have trust in the guys out on the floor.”
The way the Boston series is going — the teams are tied 2-2 heading into tonight’s game at Quicken Loans Arena— Ilgauskas doesn’t appear to be in Brown’s plans, but throwing Powe out on the floor Sunday is a sign anything is possible.
More than likely, though, if Ilgauskas is to see any significant action, it will come against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic in a potential conference final matchup or versus Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in a possible NBA Finals meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Everybody has to stay ready,” Brown said. “At any given time, anybody’s number could be called.”
If the Cavaliers elect to defend him with 6-foot-8 LeBron James in Game 5, 6-1 Boston point guard Rajon Rondo vows to be ready.
“It’s happened before,” Rondo told reporters Monday in Boston. “LeBron’s going to be LeBron. He’s a great help defender, so he’s definitely going to be helping. They did it a couple years ago when (the Lakers’) Kobe (Bryant) was checking me in the finals, so I’m used to bigger guys guarding me, giving me the shot and just challenging the lane because of their wingspan.
“I really don’t care. If he checks me, he checks me. It’s not going to change the way we run our offense.”
Brown said the Cavaliers will continue to throw a lot of different looks at Rondo, with James being one of the team’s options. In the next breath, however, Brown said he liked the way James has been defending Boston small forward Paul Pierce.
Either way, Rondo doesn’t care.
“It really doesn’t matter about the matchups,” he said. “For me, I don’t really care who’s guarding me.”
- The Celtics had a 13-0 edge in second-chance points in Game 4, when Cleveland got just three offensive rebounds.
- Rondo had four offensive boards by himself.
- James was 0-of-5 on 3-pointers Sunday, when Cleveland was 4-of-21 as a team.
- Boston was 1-of-14, with Ray Allen going 1-of-8.
- ◾Brown said it was highly unlikely the Cavaliers would employ any type of zone defense in an attempt to slow Rondo.
Quote of the day
“They just wanted that game more than we did. That’s the best way to sum it up.” — Ilgauskas, on Boston’s 97-87 victory in Game 4.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.