CLEVELAND: It has been a foregone conclusion for weeks, but the Cavaliers were officially eliminated from the playoffs Thursday night when the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Cavs have missed the playoffs for three consecutive seasons. In order to prevent that streak from continuing, coach Byron Scott said the biggest key is for this team to stay healthy. In order to ensure that happens, he said the team will talk to Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao and Dion Waiters to discuss their summer routines and study if any changes need to be made.
“Andy, Dion, Kyrie, we have to have those guys play more than half the season together,” Scott said. “The injuries are something that just happens in basketball. But somehow we’ve got to have one of these years where we have some luck and we stay relatively healthy. If we do that, I think we can do some good things.”
Irving has played in 73 percent of the Cavs’ games (100-of -37) since entering the league, Varejao has played in 81 games in the past three seasons and Waiters will have missed 25 games out of his rookie season if he doesn’t play again this season.
Those three played together in just 11 games this season.
“That has to change,” Scott said.
Coaches by nature typically only worry and focus on things they can control, making it interesting that Scott chose the one factor completely out of his control. Varejao, for instance, tore the tendon in his ankle two years ago running wind sprints in practice. He fractured his wrist when he was hit while going up for a shot.
Irving fractured his finger when his hand smacked an opponent’s shoe and he injured his shoulder on a routine drive to the basket.
“A lot of it is not in our control,” Scott said. “You’ve got to have a little luck as well and hopefully next year we’ll have some good luck and those guys will stay healthy.”
Scott has been known as one of the league’s toughest coaches because he runs one of the most rigorous training camps. His practices are long and physical, too, but he doesn’t believe his physical practices or difficult training camps have led to any of the Cavs’ injury problems.
“We’ve had so many injuries that I’ve had to tone down,” Scott said. “But I’m not going to scale back what I do practice-wise because I really do believe it prepares guys to play in this league and play on a consistent basis.”
The Philadelphia 76ers entered Quicken Loans Arena on Friday as one of the league’s most disappointing teams after they were expected to be one of the top teams in the East. Many of their problems can be attributed to Andrew Bynum, who won’t play in a single game after the Sixers acquired him last summer in a three-team deal with the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic.
Bynum will miss the entire season and enter free agency, where the Sixers have the unenviable choice of trying to sign a 7-foot center with bad knees to a big contract or let him walk and lose him for nothing after trading All-Star Andre Iguodala to obtain him.
“I think the Bynum thing really threw them off. After making that trade, I think everybody, including myself, thought they’d be one of the better teams in the East,” Scott said. “But when the guy doesn’t play the whole season, it kind of throws everything off as far as they’re concerned. One of those unfortunate things because I know they had high hopes for this year and now he’s a free agent and you don’t know what’s going to happen with that situation.”
Scott played college basketball with Shawn Holiday, the father of Sixers All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. The Cavs also had Jrue’s younger brother, Justin, in for training camp this season.
Scott is growing accustomed to coaching children of guys he used to play with — it happened last season when the Cavs briefly had Mychel Thompson on the roster after Scott played with his father on the Lakers.
“I know I’m old,” Scott said. “When you start coaching against friends of yours that you played college and high school ball and you’re coaching against their sons in the pros, you start to realize you’re not a spring chicken anymore.”
Scott turned 52 on Thursday.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at https://ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.