Archive for Sunday, January 6, 2008

Cavs showing stability

Gooden part of consistent front line

January 6, 2008


— Last month, as his starting lineup was changing and players were shuttling back and forth between getting heavy minutes and being on the inactive list, Cavaliers coach Mike Brown stated the obvious when he proclaimed himself in "search mode."

Things often change rapidly in the NBA, but after several weeks of steady play, Brown has stopped tinkering and the Cavs are showing their first signs of stability all season. It has helped that after six weeks of players dealing with injuries or missing because of contract disputes, the team has been fully healthy for about a month.

"We're starting to settle into a rotation, and the players are starting to know where their minutes are coming from," Brown said.

The starting lineup of Larry Hughes and Sasha Pavlovic at the guard spots might not be the most offensively productive unit, but combined with the steady frontcourt of LeBron James, Drew Gooden and Zydrunas Ilguaskas, the Cavs are playing their best defense of the season.

Anderson Varejao and Daniel Gibson have been effective as the first two players off the bench. Varejao is averaging eight points and eight rebounds as a pure energy man, and Gibson is one of the top scoring reserves in the Eastern Conference.

Devin Brown has earned a spot as well, proving to be versatile because he can play multiple positions.

Those eight players now make up the core of the rotation, with Ira Newble and Dwayne Jones becoming the ninth man, depending on matchups.

Getting to this point, however, hasn't been easy. Brown's searching and inconsistent rotations earlier created uneasiness. Not every player on the team is going to be thrilled every night, but for the moment, there is consistency.

"It was hard on me individually (finding the rotation). If it is hard on me, then it's got to be tough on the players," Brown said. "Because I'm yanking and guessing and changing, it was all a little unsettling."

James was able to play Friday despite a sore right big toe. The injury occurred Wednesday, but James said he didn't know how. He said he didn't expect it to be anything but a nuisance.

"It is good enough for me to play," James said. "It didn't feel bad until I put my shoe on. I don't know what it really is."


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