The Cavs went through a light workout Tuesday, with the starters getting some shots up before taking the day off. Cavs coach Byron Scott continues to go easy on them in practice because he's working them so hard in games.
J.J. Hickson is one of those who needs to work hard in practice to regain the trust of his coach. Scott is a firm believer in good -- or bad -- habits beginning in practice and carrying over into games. He was encouraged by Hickson's nine-rebound performance on Monday, but has been fooled by one or two good showings by Hickson in the past, only to have him revert to his old ways.
Hickson has to learn how to play hard for a whole game, every game. He says he understands that, but now it's a matter of putting that into practice. The carrot for him is reclaiming his old starting spot.
Playing time and starting status matters to almost every player, and Hickson is no exception. But it seems to be especially important for him, since he seems to get down when he doesn't play in the fourth quarter and loses confidence when he loses the status of being a starter in the NBA.
"I have to get back to the old JJ," Hickson said. "Tip-ins, offensive rebounds and getting a lot of hustle points."
The big question for Hickson entering the season was how effective he could be without LeBron James around to break down defenses and set him up with easy shots. He still hasn't answered that question, but it's more because of his own lack of effort and focus. Hickson needs to fall out of love with his jump shot and return to the scrappy player underneath. He hasn't spent as much time in the paint this season as he did last year, although his minutes as a backup center is forcing him back in there.
Hickson will eventually get another chance to start, but it likely isn't coming anytime soon.
"I like the way our starters have been playing and I like the rotation, the shortened rotation, so far," Scott said. "It gives us a chance. That’s all we’re asking for."
In other news, Anderson Varejao had a rough day after getting beaten up a little in Monday's loss to the Jazz. He received treatment on his hip and his sore ribs continue to be a concern.
"That will be ongoing 'til the new year," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "We'll make sure we keep him protected as much as possible. The way he plays, he’ll always get hit in some part of that area."