CLEVELAND: Final thoughts on non-Bynum issues…
* The Cavaliers wouldn’t have won this game if not for the calming effect Jarrett Jack had on a scattered team in the first half.
* Kyrie Irving’s final numbers (15 points, nine assists, seven rebounds) were terrific, but his shooting stroke was a mess Wednesday (4 of 16). Irving was forced to the bench 4 ½ minutes into the game with two fouls, but Jack quickly helped settle things down.
* Jack never seems to rush and never seems to allow the opponent to speed him up. When Jack and Irving were on the floor together in the second quarter, the Cavs grabbed an offensive rebound off a miss and the ball was quickly swung to Irving, who didn’t waste any time getting up a shot. He missed and the Cavs grabbed the rebound again.
* This time, the ball was swung to Jack and he held it for a split-second near center court and told everyone to relax. The Cavs ran an actual play and got a basket out of it.
* I’m sure he was tempted to put Jack back in at the end of the game, but Mike Brown left Irving and Dion Waiters on the floor together to figure things out on a night neither shot the ball well. It’s a credit to his trust in the youthful pair of guards and their ability to gut out a victory.
* As one Cavs staffer told me tonight, though, Brown will play the guys that give him the best chance to win at the end of games, regardless of who it is. The offense actually flowed and looked its best when Jack was on the floor. But the Cavs can’t really close games with Jack, Irving and Waiters playing together, meaning Waiters and Irving will have to learn not to play so frenetic at the end of games or changes may eventually come to the closing lineup.
* The last critical possession, which resulted in Varejao’s jumper from the free-throw line, was horrendous. Irving dribbled around for 17 seconds before launching a 3-pointer, then after a huge Earl Clark rebound, Irving dribbled around for another 19 seconds before flipping to Varejao for the game winner.
* Waiters looked completely disengaged throughout the entire sequence. He lingered a good 8 feet behind the 3-point line and never really made a move to get involved in the play, which is part of the reason Irving had to dribble around for 30-plus seconds. Waiters still has to learn how to move without the ball and move into Irving’s vision (or whoever is handling the ball). Wandering that far out of the play with the game on the line does no one any good.
* Too many times, Clark was left with the ball in his hands at critical junctures. He is not a good enough offensive weapon to have the ball in critical spots, plus his defense early against Paul Pierce was sketchy at best. But say this for him: Clark grabbed the biggest offensive rebound of the game following Irving’s long miss of a 3-pointer.
* Brown got on Clark for his lack of rebounding through the preseason, when he averaged just 2.7 per game. Clark responded with nine rebounds Wednesday, including the huge one at the end of the game. The Cavs probably don’t win this game without that rebound.
* Want proof of how Mike Brown has grown as a coach? He admitted after the game he was probably too uptight his first time here as coach and has since learned to relax. That’s why he didn’t have a problem with Varejao shooting that open jumper from the free-throw line to win the game. In fact, Brown said he would’ve been upset if Varejao didn’t shoot it.
* “Part of it also is my maturation. Back then I was probably a little too uptight at times,” Brown said. “If a guy is wide open, shoot, he’s an NBA player. Take the shot. It’s hard to get good looks in this business, especially vs. good defensive teams like Brooklyn. If he wouldn’t have shot it, I would’ve been upset with him because he was open and he was open from the right range.”
* I was talking to Tristan Thompson prior to the game on his new shot and how smooth it looks. Thompson looks like he’s been shooting right-handed his whole life. He’s still working on the arc, but said he feels comfortable shooting from about 15 feet. Then he knocked down a jumper from right around 15 feet in the game.
* The Nets should be one of the league’s better rebounding teams this season and the Cavs outrebounded them 48-37. And they held the Nets to nine offensive rebounds. That’s awfully impressive.
He said it
“It’s different. It’s a big body out there blocking shots. He changed the game. He changed the momentum. I’m just glad he’s back out there doing what he loves to do.” – Dion Waiters on Andrew Bynum
He said it, too
"It's not like we were playing some s---- team or some crap-ass team. This team pushed us to the limit. This team has gotten better. Mike Brown's back in the league. I'm glad he's back here. Great coaches are going to find their way back. It was good to see Andrew back. Obviously, Kyrie makes this team go." – Kevin Garnett
The Cavs (1-0) play at the Charlotte Bobcats (0-1) at 7 p.m. on Friday.