The Cavaliers will mix up their lineup in the wake of Kyrie Irving’s biceps injury tonight against the Miami Heat. Without Irving, Dion Waiters will be moved to the starting lineup, with C.J. Miles returning to the rotation as well after missing the last 12 games with an ankle sprain:
Dion Waiters will start tonight in place of Kyrie. CJ Miles expected to play tonight too.
— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) March 18, 2014
Waiters has not started since November 13th, when the Cavs got run out of the building in a 29-point loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Since then he has developed into a pretty solid leader for the Cavs’ bench unit, and has averaged 15.7 points per game on 44.8 percent shooting since returning to the Cavs after a knee injury. He played horribly as a starter at the beginning of the season, shooting just 39.8 percent and averaging 13.3 points per game in his 9 starts this season, but since the All-Star break, he’s been much better, improving his True Shooting from 49.2 percent before the break to 54.1 percent after. It’s hoped that his improvement will help keep the offense, which cratered when Kyrie missed a few games in January, afloat.
Meanwhile, the addition of Miles will also help in this capacity, as well as on the defensive end. The Cavs have missed Miles’s perimeter shooting while he’s been out, and adding him as Kyrie heads out will be a big help. There’s no word on if he’ll be on any kind of minutes restriction tonight, but I would assume he will have a few games before he’s playing his regular minutes.
It’s unknown what this news will mean for the long term. I’d assume the Waiters move is temporary unless he goes nuts in his starting role, and Miles will likely return to the starting lineup within a few games. I would assume Waiters will still see a substantial minutes increase in either case, and we’ll probably still see him getting big minutes with the second unit. If Waiters can impress in the starting role, however, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Waiters stay in the starting lineup for the rest of the season, even when/if Kyrie comes back.