In his mind and on paper, Mike Brown likes the playoff potential of his basketball team. The Cavs coach only wishes he would get a full glimpse of his team together on the court for a game, or even a practice.
In his mind and on paper, Mike Brown likes the playoff potential of his basketball team.
The Cavs coach only wishes he would get a full glimpse of his team together on the court for a game, or even a practice.
That’s yet to happen as the Cavs head into tonight’s 7:30 game at the Detroit Pistons. The Cavs enter the game with three regulars on the injured list, which never seems devoid of names.
“Every day somebody else goes out for some reason,” center Zydrunas Ilgauskas said after Friday’s practice. “We can’t shake off the injury bug that we’ve had here for awhile.”
Ilgauskas wasn’t exaggerating much. Game after game, it seems, another Cavalier gets hurt. Starting point guard Delonte West is the latest. He’s missed the last two days of practice with tendinitis in his left ankle.
West is questionable tonight, as are shooting guard Daniel Gibson (left ankle sprain) and starting forward Ben Wallace (back spasms). Gibson has missed 18 straight games, while Wallace has missed the last two.
Because of these injuries and several others throughout the season, too often Brown has to watch assistant coaches such as Chris Jent suit up and help out in practice. That’s happened again this week.
“That means some guys are not out there getting very important ‘learning lessons’ live when we can teach and coach,” Brown said.
The shortage of healthy bodies also played a part in Brown giving the team two days off at the start of the week. He doesn’t see the value of having five or six regulars practicing against four or five staff members.
“There’s a fine line I have to walk,” Brown said. “It’s almost like I don’t have a ton of room for error.”
Making the situation all the more difficult is trying to work in the four players acquired -- West, Wallace, Joe Smith and Wally Szczerbiak -- in last month’s trade when the Cavs sent away six players.
“It’s too early to put any kind of grades or anything like that (on the trade) because we really have not played together,” Ilgauskas said. “Some guys have been in and out, and as soon as we get a couple of guys better, a guy gets injured. We haven’t seen Boobie (Gibson) yet (with the new guys). I was out for two weeks. Ben was out for a couple games.”
It has resulted in erratic play on both ends of the floor.
The Cavs have done well at home since the trade, winning nine straight before losing to the Hornets on a last-second shot Wednesday. But even in their wins, their play is choppy.
On the road, the Cavs’ struggles are magnified. They have yet to put together four good quarters away from home since the trade. They have lost five straight road games, and seven of eight.
“The reality of it is you have to win on the road, especially in our spot, if you expect to do well in the playoffs,” Brown said.
The playoffs are four weeks away. At 40-32, the Cavs are pretty much locked into being the fourth seed. That means homecourt advantage for one round then, barring upsets to the other top seeds, having to win some road games against likely Boston and then Detroit to get back to the NBA Finals.
“We realize it’s going to be a lot tougher this year than (it was) last year in the playoffs,” Ilgauskas said. “But we also know if we get everything together, we have some talent on this team. I think we’re going to be a tough out. It’s going be tough to beat us four times in two weeks (during a best-of-seven series).”
Reach Repository sports writer Chris Beaven at (330) 580-8345 or e-mail email@example.com