By Jason Lloyd
Beacon Journal sports writer
DALLAS: Now that Anderson Varejao is back as the starting center, Henry Sims will likely go back to the end of the bench. But the reserve center made the most of Varejao’s absence, averaging 18 minutes over the three games Varejao missed with a knee injury.
Prior to that, Sims had only played about 88 minutes all season.
“In this business, you can go from playing zero minutes to 20 minutes in an instant,” Sims said.
Sims’ strength is his defense, which immediately appeals to Mike Brown. He has preferred Sims’ interior defense to that of Tyler Zeller at various points over the last week. Brown believes Zeller gets too upright in his defense stance at times, which causes him to relax and fall behind by a half step.
“He’s so big and he’s got pretty good strength for his size,” Brown said of Zeller. “Once he goes upright, he tends to relax. The biggest thing for him, when he’s ready to play, he’s a monster.”
Varejao started at center in Monday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, which will greatly reduce Sims’ minutes again. But he made an impression on Brown and served as a good reminder how fast the game changes after he spent the bulk of his rookie season last year in the Development League.
“Things happen around the league. [Andrew] Bynum’s gone, Andy goes down and I get a chance,” Sims said. “I have friends who were sitting the bench and now they’re starting because of injuries or trades. It’s a long season, but at the same time it goes by pretty quick. And just like that, you have to be ready for whatever happens because today is not going to be the same as tomorrow.”
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was gushing over the Cavs’ backcourt tandem of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. He said when Waiters is making shots, he can cause fits for opponents and conceded Waiters has been a priority for the Mavericks since he entered the league.
“When he’s going, they’re a different team,” Carlisle said of Waiters. “That’s pretty clear statistically. He causes multiple problems because he’s athletic, he can shoot it outside and drive it inside. It’s a problem.”
As for Irving, Carlisle said he hasn’t seen anyone like him during his 30 years in the league.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a guy in 30 years in this league that can do the things off the dribble that he can do, in terms of getting to places on the court,” he said. “Just a ridiculous change of direction, really beyond crafty. Lightning fast, quick and inventive. It’s the only way I can put it. He’s just very unique.”
The players and coaches left Saturday’s loss at Houston a little more optimistic because they played the game the right way. They moved the ball well on offense and they communicated better defensively — two of the big reasons why Brown changed his starting lineup again, inserting Jarrett Jack and removing C.J. Miles.
“It’s no secret we need to get wins to build that confidence even more,” Brown said. “For us, that’s the biggest thing.”
Carrick Felix, sidelined with a stress fracture in his knee, said the knee had been bothering him for two months before he spoke up and told anyone. He’s out at least another month. … Varejao said his knee is still painful, he just has to play through it. He needed 10 points and one rebound Monday to become the fourth player in Cavs history with at least 4,000 points and 4,000 rebounds … Waiters entered Monday averaging 20.3 points in his last three games and shooting 60 percent (25-for-42).