INDEPENDENCE: Following the Cavaliers’ 3-2 road trip, in which they won more games on the road over an eight-day period than they had all season prior to the five-game swing out West, coach Mike Brown isn’t looking at the Cavs’ next homestand as anything special.
The Cavs will now play five games in a row in Cleveland, starting with today’s 1 p.m. tip-off against the Dallas Mavericks (24-18), making it the longest homestand of the season.
Brown said after Sunday’s practice that he saw progress through the road trip, namely in the team’s ability to close out offensively, play with physicality on defense and play with a sense of urgency, three things that were especially lacking away from home. While an outside observer might say the Cavs’ five-game home stretch is coming at just the right time, Brown is weary of a letdown just as things start to go well.
“I’m not looking at the five games [together],” Brown said. “The next game is Dallas. A lot of times when you go on a long road trip, you come back and your first game is flat and you get your behinds kicked.”
The Cavs (15-25) entered Sunday night two games behind Brooklyn for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. After starting the season 2-15 on the road, the Cavaliers notched road wins over Utah, the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver.
Such a positive stretch could be a boon for a team that was one of the NBA’s worst away from the friendly confines of Quicken Loans Arena.
“At no point did I think we were out of it,” Brown said of the playoff race. “Every other team out there, too, thinks they have a chance. The East records are not very good.
“We have to stay in a circle and figure it out trying to get better as we go along. If we can string a few games together, we’re right in the mix.”
Good pace for Miles
Guard C.J. Miles, who scored 19 points and logged 38 minutes in the Cavs’ 117-109 win over the Nuggets on Friday night, credited the team’s offensive pace with the improved play away from home.
“The biggest thing is the pace we’re playing with,” Miles said. “It allows us to get up and down the floor, and there’s just so many openings and the freedom that coach [Brown] is giving a little more to handle the ball. And Kyrie [Irving] encouraging me to do it because it takes the pressure off him sometimes, it just allows me to play with the ball in my hands a little bit more instead of waiting for jump shots. Then, when it’s time for Kyrie to put his cape on, they’ve got to pick their poison.”
Miles shot 53.8 percent from the floor and 52.9 percent from 3-point range during the five-game road trip. He said that doing more in transition, along with Irving and Luol Deng taking even more attention away from him, has allowed for a more balanced game.
“I’m just finding open spots and mixing it up well enough where I’m not just shooting 3-pointers. ... Defensively, I’ve been able to get steals and deflections and rebounds to get out on the break, which allows me to have a nice rhythm to the game.”
Miles hails from Dallas, so today’s game against the Mavericks comes with bragging rights in the balance.
“It’s more for barbershop talk than anything else,” Miles said. “That’s the biggest thing. And you know your whole family’s going to get to see it because their team is going to broadcast it.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.