NBA AM: Kyrie Irving Likes The Cavs’ New Focus
Kyrie Irving - VIDEO OF THE DAY
Cavs' guard Kyrie Irving talks about pre-season, what his team has been working on in camp and his new young team mates including the top overall pick.Watch More Video Here
It’s About The Defense: The Cleveland Cavaliers fired former head coach Byron Scott over the offseason and replaced him with former Lakers and Cavs coach Mike Brown. The message at the time was clear, the Cavaliers needed to improve on defense and with training camp and preseason hitting its 14th day the young Cavs have been singularly minded: they will be defensive focused.
Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving admits the days have been a little bit longer as he and his team learn Brown’s defense, but the confidence his team has coming into preseason is pretty high.
“I feel like we have a lot of confidence,” Irving told HOOPSWORLD. “We have been working really hard in this preseason and training camp. It’s been exciting. I’m ready to get this thing going.”
The Cavs are 2-0 on the preseason having beaten Milwaukee and Orlando in its first two games.
Before the 110-105 win against Orlando on Friday, the focused for the Cavs remained on defense.
“For our second game, it’s another defensive-focused game,” Irving said. “To set a standard for our team going forward.”
That standard was evident post game as Brown railed on his team’s coasting through the first half on defense, in fact in what was maybe 15 minutes with the media Brown had little to say about his team’s offensive production, focusing solely on the miscues and effort on defense.
The plan is to change the mindset in Cleveland and that’s been the focus in camp.
“There is a lot more attention to detail,” Irving said. “A lot more long days, to say the least, we’re all getting used to it. It’s a mental grind for our training camp, but we’re all getting through it together.”
The Cavaliers have worked very little on offense, mainly because the defensive side has required the most work in camp. Not working on offense in camp doesn’t seem to be an issue for the Cavs.
“We’ve all been playing with each other for a while now,” Irving said. “Offense will take care of itself. The attention to detail on the defensive end is what we’re really focused on this preseason.”
The Cavaliers are still one of the youngest teams in the league mainly because they have six players that are rookies in Sergey Karasev, Henry Sims, Carrick Felix, Matt Dellavedova, Kenny Kadji and top overall pick Anthony Bennett.
“It feels good to finally call someone else ‘rook’ and actually be older than him instead of being the youngest on the team,” Irving said. “AB [Anthony Bennett] is coming into his own. He is figuring things out, as every rookie is figuring it out during preseason. He’s been doing a great job; working hard in practice and after practice. He has lots of potential.”
The Cavaliers have six more preseason games on their schedule including a stop in Canton, Ohio on Tuesday to face the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Cavaliers open their regular season on October 30 against the Brooklyn Nets. If the two pre-season games are any indicator, the Cavs could be markedly improved this season.
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You Didn’t Expect Eventless Did You?: The Chicago Bulls are erring on the side of caution when it comes to injuries in preseason, so it’s not a huge surprise that the Bulls and point guard Derrick Rose opted for him to sit out Saturday’s preseason game in Rio de Janerio.
The Bull’s immediately found themselves in the middle of a fire storm of controversy and concern, but the message from the Bulls is that Rose is a little sore and they don’t want sore to become a problem.
Bull’s General Manager Gar Forman said that this would be part of the process of easing Rose back into playing NBA basketball.
“I don’t want to go into what (team physician) Brian (Cole) said,” Forman said to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
“[Derrick] sat out … a week ago,” Forman said. “He’s got some soreness again, and we wanted to be conservative with it at this point.
“I think he understands the same thing. Coming back from any injury, there are going to be some ups and downs as he readjusts to playing a high level of basketball.”
For Rose’s part, he felt like he could have played, but said it wasn’t his call.
“I know I’m going to be ready for the regular season,” Rose said. “I could’ve played, but the front office made the decision to sit me out. I was fine with it.”
The Bull’s single biggest problem last year was getting and staying healthy and it’s a key area they are focused on not only in preseason but entering the regular season.
The Bulls wrapped up their preseason trip to Rio and will have their next three preseason games at home, giving them more than a week before they have to travel again.
The Bulls are adamant that Rose is fine; however, it’s clear the Bulls are going to play it safe with Rose, especially early on in the process.
The Things You Do In China: The LA Lakers are in China for two preseason games and while taking in the sites and promoting the game is a big part of the journey. Getting right on the court is also part of the process.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who is still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, sort of teased the media with the team saying that he might actually get out on the court.
“I feel pretty damn good, so I’m going to get out today and try to move around on the court,” Bryant said to reporters.
Bryant didn’t actually practice, but did up his running from just on a treadmill to actual running on his own and was on the court with his team mates.
“I haven’t had any pain or any soreness whatsoever,” Bryant said. “It’s kind of a flexibility thing, and getting the range of motion back—feel like you can bend without having to lift the heel up. After months of the tendon being compressed, now you have to work to stretch it out a little bit.”
The Lakers and Bryant continue to say there is no timetable for his return to action, but it’s clear the super competitive Bryant is itching to get back to work.
Bryant joked with reporters saying that if this were a Playoff game or a Finals game he felt like he could play now.
The best case scenario is that Bryant is working with his team in advance of their regular season opener versus the L.A. Clippers on October 29, but most insiders familiar with where he is at say it’s more likely that Kobe is practicing sometime in November and possibly playing at some point around Thanksgiving.
The Lakers will be in China through the end of the week.
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