Mike Brown is a defensive minded coach. That is his reputation.
If you see the Cavaliers as a playoff team in the East (and I do) then you are counting on a healthy Kyrie Irving, somebody stepping up in the frontcourt, and Mike Brown improving a defense that was 27th in the NBA in points per possession last season.
Brown’s defensive focus led to some frustration and discussions with second-year two guard Dion Waiters and Brown on Tuesday night. Waiters was matched up on Gerald Henderson and getting torched pretty good as the Cavaliers were losing to the Bobcats, reports the Morning Journal.
“He takes me out, talks to me and then puts me back in,” Waiters said after the Cavs’ 92-74 loss to the Bobcats on Tuesday before a sold-out crowd of 4,047 at the Canton Memorial Civic Center.
Brown did that three times on Tuesday night.
“You’re better than this,” (Brown said he) told Waiters. “To his credit, he tried harder. He has a lot of room to grow.”
The good news out of this was Waiters was receptive and open to the tough-love coaching. That’s the attitude you want.
Waiters, Irving and Jarrett Jack need to be solid defensively out top while the Cavaliers hope Earl Clark or Alonzo Gee grow into the “3-and-D” role at the three. Then they just need someone up front (Anderson Varejao, eventually Andrew Bynum) who can be a rim protector in the paint.
But in the NBA, effort and guys buying into the system can raise a bad defensive team up to average — everybody in the NBA is athletic so if they bring some energy to defense they can be solid. Ray Allen was considered a minus defender but in the strong Boston and Miami systems he’s been passable.
If the Cavaliers are going to make the playoffs, they need everyone to step up and be solid on D. Including Waiters.