A growing trend has developed on the Cavaliers. As each game goes by, forward Alonzo Gee is getting more playing time, and his resurgence has affected forward Omri Casspi’s minutes in a big way.
Gee has been the Cavs’ biggest surprise of the young season. Casspi, one of the Cavs’ major offseason acquisitions, has been disappointing. He’s averaged 4.3 points and 3.3 rebounds through the first three games even though he had nine in the Cavs’ 98-82 win over New Jersey on Sunday.
If he doesn’t get going soon, he soon could be coming off the bench. The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Casspi is trying to find his niche in the Cavs’ offense as well as get on the same page with his teammates.
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“I’m just trying to get into a rhythm,” he said after practice Saturday at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “I feel like I’m thinking too much during the game about my shot, about what kind of shots I need to take, and defense. I’ve just got to let it go, clear my mind, play the game and enjoy it. That’s the most important thing.”
Conversely, the 6-6, 219-pound Gee appears to be making his move. He has played the entire fourth quarter of each of the last three games. On the season, he’s averaging 10 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and a team-high 1.33 steals. He’s no longer thought of as a borderline NBA player.
Gee set a career high with 3 of 5 3-point goals en route to his 11 points against the Nets.
“I have got to let it go,” Casspi said. “I’ve got to play my game, run and cut and just clear my mind.
“I think my role is fine. I just need to continue to do what I do and bring it to the floor.”
Casspi said he’s had no issues with either knee.
“I feel great,” he said. “I just need to try to contribute in other (ways) — rebounding and defense. I think the offense will come, hopefully sooner rather than later.”
Coach Byron Scott said he’s still trying to get a feel for Casspi. He said his defense has been decent.
“He’s allowing his length and athleticism to work to his advantage,” he said. “Every now and then, he plays a guy soft when I want him to be more aggressive, like he was in Detroit.”
His downfall has been his shot, which has abandoned him. He’s shooting just 26.7 percent from the field (4 of 15) and 16.7 percent from the 3-point line (1 of 6). He’ll attempt to turn things around against Charlotte on Tuesday at The Q.
–With the score tied at 84 and time running out in the fourth quarter of Friday’s game at Indiana, the Cavs put the ball in G Kyrie Irving’s hands. The Cavs ran a high pick-and-roll play. Coach Byron Scott told him one of Indiana’s big men would pick him up on the switch. C Roy Hibbert was standing in front of him and the rim. “I told him, ‘Go by him and make a play for you or your teammates,’ ” Scott said. “He did just that. He just didn’t finish the play.” He missed the layup as F Danny Granger lunged at him near the rim. “I think we’re going to see (plays like that) for years to come,” Scott said.
–Cavs coach Byron Scott wants to nip the problem in the bud. The Cavs’ foul shooting has been bad in the first four games, and they made only 6 of 11 in the victory over New Jersey on Sunday. On the season, they are shooting just 67.3 percent from the line, one of the worst percentages in the league. Scott said he wants the Cavs to shoot 74 or 75 percent as a team from the line.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “I said out of all of our young people, he came back most improved. He’s taken his game to a different level. He’s been, after Andy (Varejao), our most consistent guy. He took a gigantic leap over the summer. His confidence level improved, too. He knows he can play in this league.” — Cavs coach Byron Scott on forward Alonzo Gee.
ROSTER REPORT PLAYER NOTES:
–The Kyrie Irving-Brandon Knight matchup is going to be fun to watch for years to come. Irving was the Cavs’ No. 1 overall pick from Duke, while Knight was the Pistons’ No. 8 overall selection from Kentucky. Ohio State fans will remember it was Knight who knocked the Buckeyes out of the NCAA tournament last season with a 10-foot jumper at the buzzer. Knight might be a little better shooter than Irving, but the latter has superior point guard skills and is stronger fundamentally. Both should be Central Division rivals for years to come.
–G Daniel Gibson (right ring finger) and C Anderson Varejao (back) were injured in the Pacers game. However, both played extremely well in the win over the Nets on Sunday. Gibson had 19 points and made 5 of 7 from the 3-point line. He sure didn’t shoot as if his finger bothered him. Varejao took the day off from practice on Saturday but pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds against the Nets. “He’s been Andy,” Cavs coach Byron Scott said. “If you give him 30 minutes, he’ll give you a double-double. He plays so hard and with reckless abandon.”
–C Semih Erden (broken right thumb) is expected to practice with contact this week. If all goes well, he could be activated on the West Coast trip.