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By now, most expected Cedi Osman to have quietly returned to his role as a seldom-used reserve for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Well, after two starts, this much is certain — nothing about the game of the 22-year-old Osman is quiet and he is not going back to the bench.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said after practice Monday that Osman will make his third consecutive start tonight, when the Cavaliers (33-22) invade Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder (32-25).
"I don't know what happened! I think I got too excited." 😄
"It's all good. It was an important challenge for me. When I missed the dunk, I kept playing. Coaches and my teammates kept supporting me."
We've all been there, @cediosman. 👊
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) February 12, 2018
Osman will start at small forward, with LeBron James staying at the four, Lue said. With five-time All-Star Kevin Love out of commission until late-March because of a broken left hand, Lue must make adjustments.
“I mean, I like what he brings,” he said of Osman. “I think having Bron at the four… it’s a big disadvantage [for the opposing team] having him at the four, because now you’ve got four guys that push it out on the break. I think that’s big.”
In his first two starts, Osman has been terrific, playing well in double-digit road victories against Atlanta (on Friday) and Boston (on Sunday), respectively.
The 6-foot-8, 215-pound Osman is averaging 14.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his two starts, posting 12 points and five rebounds in the 121-99 whipping of Boston on Sunday.
Lue had originally intended to insert newcomer Rodney Hood into the starting line. However, Osman’s play as a starter, combined with Hood scoring 15 points in 19 minutes off the bench at Boston, altered Lue’s plans.
“I think having Hood come off the bench and being a scoring power, a scoring threat, being able to to run things through him I think is big, also,” Lue said. “I like where we’re at right now, and we’ll just kind of go from there and see how it plays out.”
Tonight’s task — attempting to check Russell Westbrook or Paul George — is the next challenge facing Osman.
“Russ is just very good, a lot of energy,” Osman said. “So it’s going to be another big challenge for me.”
— Shaqtin' a Fool (@shaqtin) February 11, 2018
Another “big challenge” for Osman, apparently, is converting on a breakaway dunk, which he was unable to do Sunday at Boston.
With 2:04 to play in the second quarter, the rookie jumped a passing lane, picked off a pass by the Celtics’ Kyrie Irving and sped down the floor for a breakaway. However, his dunk attempt careened off the back rim and out of bounds, drawing laughter from everyone, including his teammates and coaches.
Not surprisingly, the play earned Osman a Twitter mention from @Shaqtin, the official account of Shaquille O’Neal’s wildly popular weekly lowlight collection on TNT’s Inside the NBA.
“That was the only one that I cared about and I was laughing a lot,” Osman said. “But, it’s all good. I made it. So, it’s all good.”
Osman said he “probably getting too excited” on the steal and subsequent breakaway.
“I saw everybody stand up and when I missed the dunk, I saw like, Jeff (Green) was so happy and then he was like, ‘ohhhhh,'” Osman said through a huge smile. “But, it’s all good. When I missed that dunk, I keep playing and coaches and my teammates keep supporting me and I keep playing.
“For me, it was really important to keep playing and that’s what I did, and the mental preparation was really good for me.”