Cavs Report: Waiters gets starting nod

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Byron Scott did something he’s never done before, but he thinks it just might work.

And hey, why not? It’s not like coaches are doing anyone favors by announcing opening-night starters Oct. 1.

Not that the Cavaliers’ coach ever made his intentions known that early. But he hasn’t made them known this late, either. At least, not until Monday  or one day before the Cavs open the 2012-13 season at home against Washington. Tip-off is 7 p.m. on FOX Sports Ohio.

Scott’s starters: Anderson Varejao at center, Tristan Thompson at power forward, Alonzo Gee at small forward, reigning rookie of the year Kyrie Irving at point guard, and rookie Dion Waiters at shooting guard.

Yes, Waiters is starting at shooting guard.

That means seven-year veteran C.J. Miles is coming off the bench. But, again, why not? The Cavs could use a little punch in reserve. It’s primarily the reason Miles was signed in the offseason. And it’s a role he welcomes and should be able to provide.

“That starting lineup will give us a lot of energy,” Scott said. “We have a couple guys who can score. (Gee) did a great job in the preseason, especially on the defensive end. It gives us a balance.”

As for Waiters, Scott indicated the No. 4 overall draft pick has adequately addressed some of the issues from early in training camp. Not totally, but adequately.

“He’s growing,” Scott said. “He was fantastic in the scrimmage on Friday. He wasn’t thinking as much. He knows all the plays, everything on the floor.”

Interestingly, Tuesday marks Waiters’ first official start since high school (he came off the bench for two years at Syracuse). He admitted there’s a hint of nervousness.

“You’re going to get jitters regardless,” Waiters said. “It’s a big game, it’s a big step for you as a person, something you’ve dreamed about your whole life. But once the ball goes in the air, you’ve got to calm yourself down … just play smart, don’t try to do too much out there and stay within the team.”

Along with Miles, veteran guard Daniel Gibson and rookie center Tyler Zeller are expected to be first off the bench. Everyone else’s minutes could be dependent on matchups  although Scott said he’ll probably use a 10-man rotation.

“We’ll be a much more improved team this year,” Scott said. “I like the talent level we have right now.”

Dribbles

• Irving practiced Monday and is expected to play Tuesday after having four wisdom teeth removed last week. Then again, Scott tempered enthusiasm (perhaps strategically) by saying it’s “50-50” that Irving plays.

• Waiters said the playoffs are the goal this season. Scott was a little less specific. “As long as we realize we’re heading in the right direction and our guys are getting better, that’s all that matters,” Scott said. “All that other stuff will come in due time.”

• The Wizards flew out of D.C. Monday at 8 a.m. That’s considerably earlier than most day-before-the-game flights. The reason: They wanted to avoid any possible delays caused by Hurricane Sandy.

• Former Cavs coach Randy Wittman (1999-2001) now leads the Wizards. They’re expected to start Emeka Okafor at center, Trevor Booker at power forward, Trevor Ariza at small forward, Bradley Beal at shooting guard and A.J. Price at point guard.

• Beal was selected with the third overall pick, one spot ahead of Waiters. Most notably, the Wizards will be without regular starting center Nene (foot) and point guard John Wall (knee). Also, forward Kevin Seraphin (calf) is listed as questionable, but indicated via his Twitter account that he’ll also miss the game.

• The Cavs are 11-31 in season-openers. The Wizards are 21-30 (10-22 on the road).

• FOX Sports Ohio will broadcast an hour-long pregame show Tuesday. Pregame shows the rest of the season are scheduled to begin 30 minutes prior to tip-off.

Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO