CLEVELAND — Following the Cavaliers‘ 140-138 overtime victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue vowed to find a more consistent role for swingman Cedi Osman after the rookie made big contributions off the bench.
“I’ve got to keep playing him,” Lue said. “I mean, he brings a lot. He can guard 1s, 2s and 3s. He knows the coverages, he’s in the right spot defensively all the time, and offensively he can make plays. He can run the floor and can catch and go. For a rookie, he really understands how to play the game, and we have to find minutes for him.”
Osman played 21 minutes against the Wolves and finished with nine points on 3-of-5 shooting, four rebounds and a steal. His plus-minus rating of plus-7 was tied for the team lead.
“Coach has been talking all the time to me, and I’m always ready,” Osman said. “Seriously, today when I get in the game, I was so thirsty — I was just going out and bringing energy to the team. I’m so happy I was a part of the win tonight.”
Osman had played just 17 minutes total in the Cavs’ previous 10 games coming into Wednesday.
“Guys are going to defend, get out in transition,” Green said when asked about the potential of that group. “The versatility of the three of us, being able to guard every position, it was big for us, especially down the stretch.”
Green said that the Cavs — who came into the night losers of 13 of their previous 19 games since Christmas Day — spoke before the game about focusing on the joy of the game of basketball once again to lift them through their lean times.
James said Osman embodies the spirit the team is searching for.
“Energy. That’s what we need,” James said. “We’re a team that has to have a lot of energy on the floor. Myself and Jeff and Cedi, we do that. We bring a lot of energy to the game. [Osman] doesn’t know. He’s out there just playing for the love of the game. He’s going to make mistakes, which is OK, but his purity of the game is infectious to our team.
“He hasn’t been in many situations, so he’s not even going to trip about what’s going on. He’s going to play his game. And he’s been in professional basketball since he was 14 years old, so he plays the game the right way. It’s great to have him.”
Osman, 22, who was born in Macedonia, has played professionally in Turkey and as a member of the junior and senior Turkish national basketball teams.
According to NBA.com/Stats, James, Osman and Green have a net rating of plus-10.2 in 76 minutes played together this season.
Wade, 36, was held out of the lineup for rest Wednesday, allowing him a day off on the second night of a back-to-back. Meanwhile, Shumpert was a late scratch with plantar fasciitis, Rose played 8 minutes and Korver played 19 minutes.
And late in the game, Lue subbed Osman on and off the court with Isaiah Thomas, using Thomas on offensive possessions and Osman on defensive ones.
“I mean, he gives us something we don’t have,” Thomas said. “We don’t — what do they say, we’re the oldest team in the league? We don’t play with that much energy. So to have something, somebody like that, that rubs off on everybody. Even with the times we do practice, he’s the most energized guy, so he deserves it.
“I’m glad he got his time today, and he helped us out. I know he can help in the future, so we’ll see what coach does.”
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