June 26, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Cavaliers set to embark on long road trip

Rick Noland

The Gazette

CLEVELAND — It starts tonight in Milwaukee and then takes the Cavaliers to road games against the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State, Phoenix, Oklahoma City and Brooklyn.

That grueling, criss-cross-the-country, six-game trip will likely give Cavs coach Byron Scott a very good idea what his inexperienced, rebuilding team is all about.

“With a young team like this, you just want to see how they react to certain things,” Scott said Friday prior to a game against the Chicago Bulls at Quicken Loans Arena. “One of the first things I talked to the coaching staff about is, ‘If we lost three straight, four straight, how do they react?’

“You want to see how they react. Not hoping that we lose three or four in a row, but you want to see what guys are going to do. Everybody’s great when things are going well. When adversity hits, that’s when you really find out the true test of your team and your teammates.

“Hopefully, we don’t get to that, but there’s going to be some point this season when we have some adversity.”

For Scott, the highlight of the 11-day trip, which will take the Cavs to both coasts and all three time zones, will be seeing 6-month-old granddaughter Kyla when the team is in Los Angeles.

“It starts out good for me,” the coach said with a huge smile.

After the six road games, the Cavs return home to host Dallas on Nov. 17, but then play in Philadelphia the next night. They host the 76ers on Nov. 21 before playing at Orlando, Miami and Memphis. That means tonight begins a stretch where Cleveland will play 10 of its next 12 games on the road.

Clone him

Nobody knows exactly what is in the DNA of never-stop Cavs center Anderson Varejao, but Scott would love to have an entire team of guys just like him.

“Andy’s energy is something special,” the coach said. “If it can rub off on some other guys, the more, the better. Tristan (Thompson) is trying to take some notes, just like everybody else who plays with Andy.”

Varejao went against a player a lot like him Friday in Chicago’s outspoken Joakim Noah, whose frenetic play and almost equally wild hair made for an interesting evening in the post.

“They play a lot alike,” Scott said. “They both play with a ton of passion. They play like it’s going to be their last game every time they step on the floor.”

Pine time

Though he sat behind veteran Luke Walton in the opener, big man Samardo Samuels figures to be in the 10-man rotation fairly soon.

“It wasn’t anything he didn’t do,” Scott said of Samuels, who slimmed down to 246 pounds and played well in the preseason. “It was just a gut feeling on my part (to play Walton).”

Assuming Samuels eventually takes Walton’s minutes, that will leave Omri Casspi, who began last season as the starting small forward, and young big man Jon Leuer on the outside looking in.

“You’re going to get your chance,” Scott said of his message to Casspi. “I don’t know when it’s going to be, but this league is always full of opportunities. You just have to be ready. It’s as simple as that.”

A Rose

With Bulls point guard Derrick Rose expected to be out until at least January due to a knee injury, Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving might not play his first game against the 2011 league MVP until Feb. 26 in Chicago.

The Cavs host Chicago again on Dec. 5 and play in the Windy City on Jan. 7, the latter being a very optimistic return date for Rose. Irving and Rose both missed two of the teams’ three meetings last season and never went head to head.

“It’s unfortunate Derrick is going through what he’s going through,” Scott said. “He’s a great kid.”


The Bulls entered the night with an eight-game winning streak over the Cavs. Their three victories last season came by an average of 30.7 points, including a 114-75 win on Jan. 20. That 39-point defeat represented the worst home loss in Cavs history.


For the second straight game, Luke Harangody and Jeremy Pargo were inactive for the Cavs. Rose was inactive for Chicago, which only has 13 players on its roster.

l Due to a salary cap technicality, the Bulls can’t sign another player until late November. Teams can carry as many as 15 players, but Chicago might decide to stick with the 13 it has.

l The Bucks will be without Luc Mbah a Moute (knee) tonight.

l The Cleveland at Memphis game on Nov. 26 will no longer be televised by NBA TV.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.

Rick Noland About Rick Noland

Rick Noland is the Cavs beat writer for The Gazette and the author of "Over Time," a compilation of stories he's written in more than 30 years as a journalist. He can be reached at 330-721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.