In the calm before the storm of playing the now-sixth-seeded team in the East in the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, Cleveland Cavaliers head coach JB Bickerstaff shared how he would approach his rotations as the Cavs play in their final nine games of the season during Monday’s practice.
“No,” JB Bickerstaff said when asked if he is focused on only playing guys he feels he can go to in a postseason series. “We’re playing, one to help ramp guys minutes up with the expectation that, in the playoffs, guys minutes are going to ramp up. Just so they’re prepared for that. But, understanding too that no matter what happens, and it always happens, at some point in time, anybody’s number can be called.
“You hope that you’re healthy going through all this, but it’s the NBA. You know the realization of that happening. We’re trying to make sure that everybody is going to be prepared if their number is called on.”
While Bickerstaff stuck to his usual eight-man rotation against playoff competitors like the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat, recent matchups against the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets gave the fourth-year Cleveland head coach the opportunity to reach further down the bench. 13 players saw action against the Wizards on Friday, including newly-signed guard Danny Green and a first-year Cavalier in forward Mamadi Diakite.
Forward Dylan Windler, who was expected to miss 4-6 weeks after receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection in November, saw a combined total of eight minutes in games against Charlotte and Washington. Bickerstaff said Windler was progressing but still expected Windler to play at some point this season in January, according to Right Down Euclid Editor-in-Chief Evan Dammarell.
The Cavs rotated through nine players in Cleveland’s last matchup with the Nets in December. Four Cavs starters played in 31 minutes or more, while forward Cedi Osman earned just under 30 minutes off the bench.