DETROIT: Mike Brown became the third coach in Cavaliers history to reach 300 victories. Whether he’ll be around long enough to become the all-time franchise leader remains to be seen.
The Cavs’ victory against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night marked the milestone, although Brown didn’t have any idea until he called home before boarding the plane for the short flight to Detroit for Wednesday’s game against the Pistons. His son, Cameron, told him about the achievement.
“I had no clue. You just kind of go out there and coach and work,” said Brown, who thanked owner Dan Gilbert for the opportunity and the Cleveland community for “putting up with me for this long.”
“Longevity in this business isn’t a word that is used a lot,” Brown said. “To be able to have an opportunity to get something like that is special.”
Brown’s all-time record with the Cavs entering Wednesday was 300-182 and 342-211 overall. He trails only Bill Fitch (304) and Lenny Wilkens (316) on the Cavs’ all-time list.
Brown is only in the first season of a five-year contract, but given the upheaval already this season and the uncertain summer ahead, there are no assurances Brown will return beyond this season.
“I think it would be foolish of any owner to make an absolute type of determination or statement on anybody in the organization,” owner Dan Gilbert told the Beacon Journal during the All-Star break. “But we feel good about Mike Brown and we feel Mike Brown is as hard working as they come, is as intellectual on basketball. Obviously, everybody at the end of the day, especially if you’re a head coach, will be evaluated by your win/loss record over a period of time. I’ll leave it at that.”
The Cavaliers entered Wednesday riding the type of hot streak offensively they haven’t enjoyed in five years. They shot at least 50 percent in their last three games, their longest such streak since Feb. 25-March 3, 2009, when they did it in five straight.
Brown believes the improved offensive numbers are the result of a better pace, ball movement and proper spacing.
“I felt in the past there have been times if we shot it better from 3, we might have won the game because our defense was good enough, our ball movement was good enough, our spacing was good enough, we didn’t know down open shots,” Brown said. “Guys are in a good rhythm, guys have a good feel of where they should be and the ball is hopping.”
Brown was pleased to see the Cavs finish at the rim so well in Tuesday’s win against the Raptors. They are the worst team in the league within 5 feet, converting just 53.7 percent of their attempts. But that was up around 68 percent against the Raptors.
“That was one of the things I challenged them with [Tuesday] morning and our guys responded,” Brown said. “We have to continue doing that. When we get down there, we have to finish the right way.”
Spencer Hawes is MIA
Spencer Hawes has been invisible during the fourth quarter of the three most recent games. He didn’t appear at all in the fourth quarter of the loss to the Houston Rockets or the victory against the New York Knicks.
He was in for the botched inbounds attempt near the end of Tuesday’s victory against the Raptors, but wasn’t credited with appearing because no time came off the clock.
Brown said Hawes’ disappearance is simply a matchup issue. Brown has elected to go small and play pick-and-roll to close games and Hawes doesn’t fit with that rotation.
“If I’m going to play that way I prefer to have a rolling big,” Brown said. “Not to say Spencer can’t roll, but Andy [Varejao] and Tristan [Thompson] and even Tyler [Zeller] are used to doing that more than Spencer is.”
Hawes has also struggled badly from the 3-point line recently. He entered Wednesday shooting 24 percent on 3-pointers (7-for-29) in his last seven games
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.