INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Don’t think the Cavaliers’ bench woes are a big secret around these parts. The coach, his assistants and the players are all well aware.
“If I said I had the right pieces from the bench standpoint, I’d be lying,” Cavs coach Byron Scott said.
Statistically, the bench isn’t awful. It actually outscored Oklahoma City’s bench (29-22) in a road loss earlier this week. And the Thunder made it to the Finals last season.
But this isn’t just about numbers, people. When you’re a reserve, it’s about maintaining leads and making the most of the minutes you receive. It’s about togetherness.
Or as Cavs swingman C.J. Miles said, “We have to know our identity.”
Miles admittedly has been one of the bench’s biggest trouble spots … when he actually played, that is. That hasn’t been for a week. Through the first six games, Miles averaged 5.7 points on a rim-rattling 28 percent shooting.
Not exactly what the Cavs (2-6) were hoping for when they signed Miles to a free-agent deal in the offseason. Not exactly what Miles hoped for, either.
But he has hardly been the lone early-season disappointment. Miles’ replacement in the rotation, Omri Casspi, has been at least as ineffective, perhaps more.
Nor are the Cavs getting any consistency from the likes of backup point guard Donald Sloan, and backup big men Samardo Samuels and Jon Leuer.
On the bright side, reserve guard Daniel Gibson has certainly done his part (8.5 ppg, 48 percent shooting), and backup rookie center Tyler Zeller could return Saturday vs. Dallas.
Zeller missed the past four games (all losses) with a concussion and fractured cheekbone, but has been cleared to play. That’s good, because he provides some much-needed productivity in the frontcourt.
Either way, the Cavs need to find something, anything to give starters Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao, Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson a lift. Or least not kill leads or close games.
At some point, the Cavs may even have to look outside the organization – and free agency is indeed something to which Scott is open.
“If there’s a guy out there that we feel can help us, should we go after him? Yes. I’m not going to sit here and say I’m satisfied with the way our bench has played, because I’m not,” Scott said.
Scott said he has not looked at a list of available free agents, but sure will if general manager Chris Grant decides to go in that direction. Some of the bigger names still available include forward Kenyon Martin, guards Michael Redd and Derek Fisher, and swingman Mickael Pietrus.
All are veterans, all have been known to provide a spark at various times in their careers.
“If there’s a guy who we feel can come in here and help us, yeah, we definitely should pursue that guy,” Scott said. “Because the bottom line for me is to continue to improve, and winning. I want to win.”
• Scott said he “probably won’t go back to (Miles)” for Saturday’s game, although he’s not entirely decided yet. The Cavs play Saturday at The Q, then Sunday at Philadelphia.
• Irving is fourth in the NBA in scoring at 24.3 ppg. That’s just ahead of normal big-time point-producers than Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant (24.2) and New York’s Carmelo Anthony (23.8).
• Waiters is second in scoring (14.5 ppg) among rookies. Portland guard Damian Lillard (18.4) is first. Waiters is also second in rookie field-goal percentage (44 percent), trailing only Charlotte’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (47 percent).
• The Mavericks (5-4) will be without former Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki (knee), who has yet to play this season. Starting forward Shawn Marion (knee) is expected to be a game-time decision.