Cavs need consistency, and same old Spurs a good test
MAR 04, 2014 3:23p ET
Venue: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland.
TV: 7 p.m., FOX Sports Ohio (Cavaliers Live pregame starts at 6:30 p.m.)
CLEVELAND: C Spencer Hawes; PF Tristan Thompson; SF Luol Deng; SG Jarrett Jack; PG Kyrie Irving.
-- The Spurs are still the Spurs. Isn't that pretty amazing? Duncan, Parker and Manu Ginobili (and coach Gregg Popovich) are still doing their thing, and no one still seems to notice or really respect it. But the Spurs will pick you apart and laugh under their breath along the way. Veteran teams that out-think you are the worst type of matchup for the Cavs.
-- Dion Waiters said he'll return tonight and he got it right at Monday's practice when he suggested the Cavs are a young team that needs to run, particularly against a veteran team like the Spurs, who prefer a controlled pace.
-- The Cavs were brilliant in the first half at Memphis, moving the ball and scoring 65 points. Then came the second half and everything just sort of stopped. The Grizzlies had something to do with that. The Cavs' tired legs and lack of depth (because of injuries) had something to do with it, too. But so did the fact the Cavs have been an inconsistent team all season. Forget game-to-game. You never know what to expect from them from one minute to the next.
-- Real quickly, in case you haven't heard, it sounds like Anderson Varejao (sore back) is a game-time decision. Mike Brown said at Monday's practice the chance Varejao plays is "slim." Also, C.J. Miles (sprained ankle) is out.
-- This game will go a long way in telling us what we can expect from the Cavs for the final 20 games (after tonight). They need to beat some really tough opponents and they need to start winning at home. They're 15-15 at The Q - unacceptable for a team that's supposed to be on the rise.
-- The Cavs have won eight of 12. Considering that included a six-game winning streak, you can choose whether or not to be impressed. But the bottom line is they are 3.5 games out of the final playoff spot. Getting to the playoffs doesn't fix everything, or guarantee acting GM David Griffin or coach Mike Brown keep their jobs, or that Deng and Hawes will re-sign over the summer. But it likely beats the alternative for everyone involved.
-- Beyond all that, there isn't much to say about this one. The Cavs need to win, period. It won't matter if the Hawks or Bobcats keep messing up and start sliding out of the playoff race. The Cavs are running out of time. They have to pull it together, believe in the coach, believe in the system, believe in defense, believe in moving the ball, and do it all on a consistent basis. Right. Now.
-- Irving has been fantastic since right before the All-Star break. He's always been good, but it was clear he took some time to adjust to Brown's schemes, and it was clear Irving didn't like it (despite what he might say). I'm not sure Irving loves it now, but he clearly has found a way to excel in it.
-- Tristan Thompson has also been great lately, and I think you can credit Hawes for a lot of the improved play. His outside shooting and deft passing has opened up things for everyone else. He seems to really enjoy playing with the likes of Irving, Thompson, Deng, etc.
-- Jack and Deng need to step it up. They were brought to Cleveland as veteran leaders. It's not uncommon for guys to get worse on offense under Brown (we've been over that), but it's one thing to play ugly. It's quite another to look lethargic and make bad decisions.
-- Finally, don't forget to catch me on "Cavaliers In The Paint" right before the pregame show (6 p.m., FOX Sports Ohio). Jeff Phelps and I talk more about Kyrie and Hawes, as well as Zyrdunas Ilgauskas, whose number will be retired Saturday. Phelps also puts me on the clock to try to spell some of the most difficult names in Cavs history. I'm nervous.