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November 7, 2013

Team on the rise at season start

Young Cavs won’t let their inexperience slow them down

By Ronnie Holman

The first 2:54 of the game, the Cavs fell behind early. The visiting and new-look Brooklyn Nets jumped out to an eight point lead of 10-2 and forced the Cavs to call their first timeout after baskets by Nets center Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, who got three quick buckets. The timeout helped, Cavs started trading baskets and had a few defensive stops to keep pace with the Nets. The fans were on their feet cheering and feeling the comforts of a great game.

Cavs coach Mike Brown was confident the fans would get their first look at newly-acquired center, Andrew Bynum. He was optimistic about Bynum playing in the game but he wanted to limit his minutes until he is completely healthy and in game shape. The healing process for the 7-foot center had been going well and he had competed in five on five scrimmages on multiple occasions.

“I have an idea of how many minutes he will possibly play which would be less than what he’s played in practice when we’ve had game time situations,” Brown said. “He wants to play, he’s like any other competitor, and he has a competitive spirit.”

Bynum checked into the game with 3:40 to go in the first quarter. The fans erupted when the announcer introduced him entering the game and his teammates were just as excited to see him step on the floor in a game that counts on their wins and losses. Cavs guard Kyrie Irving was happy to see his center make his way on the court for a few reasons. They will see the Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers Friday and Saturday in a home and away match up.

“I had to give him a standing ovation, it was big time just seeing him out there on the floor,” Irving said. “He takes up space on both ends of the floor which opens it up, that’s basically what he’s going to do for us and be himself.”

Another new face is the Cavs’ number one overall draft pick, 6’ 8” forward Anthony Bennett from UNLV. This is his first regular-season game as a pro, which means he doesn’t know what to expect in the difference between preseason games and regular-season games. On the other hand, the Nets didn’t know what to expect from him either, other than the hard work it took for him to make it to the NBA.

“I don’t know what to expect, this is my first game. I just know everybody is going to being playing real hard,” Bennett said. “Everyone has contributed to pushing me hard to get better for the season and I’m really appreciative of that.”

Cavs eventually grabbed the lead and held it for most of the game. They had moments where they looked like the second youngest team in the league, inexperienced. They played hard down the stretch even after making several mistakes, but the fans stayed behind the team cheering them on. The Nets had closed the gap and it appeared to be a game they couldn’t hold on to. After Irving dribbled and slipped and dribbled some more, as Brown stood at the stopping point of the coaches box, he finally found Anderson Varejao standing at the top of the key waiting for a pass. As Irving was falling down he got the pass off to Varejao. The NBA sign on the ball rotated around and around until it found its way falling through the net with 28.1 seconds to go in the game. After a few missed shots by the Nets and Cavs rebounds, Irving sealed the victory with four clutch free throws against a team who many feel will compete in the eastern conference finals.

“It was gritty, grimy, and an ugly game just how I like it, it was fun and I’m sure our guys enjoyed it but because of our defense we got the win,” Brown said. “The fans here are so electric, they bring the energy, they bring the spirit, and it’s such a great atmosphere.”

Cavs beat a veteran team with a lot of players many consider to be hall of famers. They showed some resilience, heart and they gave the fans hope on what’s to come for the rest of the season. It does look promising that Cavs can be in the mix of playoff talks. Who knows, we can see them facing the Nets in the playoffs or possibly knocking them off to play the Miami Heat. Cavs defeated the veteran Nets but Irving says they have a long way to go before they establish their identity.

“We didn’t establish our identity, we have 81 more games to go, our identity will change throughout the season,” Irving said.

If the game was how things are going to go for the number one overall draft pick, the league may have an easy time picking the “rookie of the year”. Bennett finished the game with only two points and five rebounds. In fairness to Bennett he didn’t know what to expect in his first regular season game as a NBA player. There are 78 more games to go for him to score more points and grab more rebounds as long has he can stay healthy.