December 20, 2014

Elyria
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Cavs in need of more than a few changes

So Cavaliers coach Byron Scott is considering making lineup changes and divvying up playing time in a different manner, huh? Hate to say it, but this will likely be a classic case of, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”

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Not very good to begin with, the 7-13 Cavaliers are rapidly getting worse as the season approaches the quarter pole. Multiply this team’s record by four and it is 28-52. Give the Cavs a split of the two remaining games and they’re 29-53.

Way more concerning than that, though, is the way the Cavs are playing. Or, in this case, not playing.
Cleveland has dropped four straight — to Boston, Miami, Minnesota and Detroit — heading into tonight’s road game in Philadelphia.

We’ll forgive losing to a very good — and rested — Celtics team.

We’ll even forgive losing to LeBron James and the Heat (though we won’t soon forget the lack of heart displayed by the Cavs in that one).

What we won’t forgive — or forget — is the way the Cavs failed to compete in Minnesota on Saturday. (Somewhere, Kevin Love is still shooting wide-open 3-pointers.)

What we won’t forget — or maybe some fans will, because this team is already in danger of becoming irrelevant — is the way the Cavs followed that up by losing to an equally bad Detroit team Sunday.

So lineup changes could be coming tonight, huh? So Scott could give some younger player a chance, huh?
Our question is, “Will it really matter?”

Certainly, Scott has to do something, but his options — if they can be called that — are limited by the talent on his roster.

He can bench power forward J.J. Hickson, who looks like a sixth-grader who has never played the game before, in favor of Antawn Jamision.

He can start Hickson at center — in theory, at least he wouldn’t be taking as many lame-brain jumpers, charging into multiple defenders or throwing the ball to a fan in the first row — put Jamison at power forward and bring the energetic Anderson Varejao off the bench.

Having already tried Jamario Moon and Joey Graham at small forward, he can give Jawad Williams his shot (and then probably start the whole change, change, change all over again).

He can start Jamison at small forward (and close his eyes while the 34-year-old attempts to defend on the perimeter).

He can start Daniel Gibson or Ramon Sessions at shooting guard in place of Anthony Parker.

He can even go extremely small, shift Parker to small forward and start Gibson or Sessions at shooting guard.

Any of the above could happen tonight (though our guess is a simple Jamison-for-Hickson switch).

Scott could also make changes to his rotation and give youngsters like Manny Harris and Samardo Samuels some playing time. Or he could knock the rust off 26-year-old Leon Powe, who has the knees of a 46-year-old.

Who knows, Christian Eyenga might even step on the court (in which case casual fans, who always think the guy who is not playing is the answer to everything, will quickly learn why he has not seen action to date).

All that being said, the real problem isn’t who is playing and who is not. It is how the Cavs are playing — or, more to the point, not playing — as a whole. (And that situation is made worse by the team’s dearth of talent.)

Right now, Scott’s club has the look of a 30-52ish team that knows it is a 30-52ish team. There are flashes of promise, collectively and individually, but there are even longer stretches where the general approach seems to be, “Oh, well, we’re not going to win tonight, so I’m at least going to try to get mine.”

Until the Cavs start competing for 48 minutes, until they start defending for as close to that as possible, until they start doing all the little things right, nothing, other than who plays and who doesn’t, is really going to change.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.