“Pick Your Poison”
From the Paint to Long-Range, Foes Check Channing at Their Own Risk
When the Cavaliers traded for Channing Frye at last year’s deadline, he seemed like a luxury item. Since his arrival, it’s hard to imagine where the Wine and Gold would be without him.
In terms of his versatility, Frye heads into the Second Round against Toronto as both the team’s backup center and, at .541 from deep, the top three-point shooter in postseason franchise history. Starting or coming off the bench, in the post or beyond the arc – Frye has done it all season.
Frye was his rock-solid self in his first full season with Cleveland – averaging 9.1 points and 3.9 boards, shooting .458 from the floor and .409 from beyond the arc. He notched double-figures in 25 games as a reserve – including a 21-point outburst on November 15 against Toronto – and averaged 13.2 points per in 25 starts.
The spate of injuries to Cleveland’s backup big men have also forced Frye into the role of backup center – not exactly his forte but a role he filled admirably all season.
In terms of the postseason, the 11th-year man from Arizona is coming off a series against Indiana in which he shot 55 percent from the floor and .467 from long-range and heading into a series against Toronto in which he shot .625 from the floor and .583 from long-range in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals.
As the Wine and Gold gear up for the next step in their title defense – welcoming the Raptors to town for Game 1 on Monday night – Cavs.com sat down with the squad’s most universally loved players to talk Toronto, his running franchise record from long-range and his first full season with the club …
Channing Frye excepts all the roles throw at his way, including patrolling the paint and becoming the Wine & Gold’s backup center.
Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images
In last year’s Eastern Conference Finals – and even earlier this season – you wore the Raptors out. Can you carry that success into the upcoming series?
Channing Frye: All that regular season/last season stuff goes out the window. Every year’s a new year.
They have new guys. Serge (Ibaka) has been playing great for them, (Norman) Powell has been playing great for them. P.J. Tucker was a really good pick-up for them.
And I think for us, we don’t take any of that for granted. We’re just focused in on winning games – and especially winning one game at a time.
What allowed you to be successful against Toronto? And are there certain teams guys just flourish against?
Frye: I think it was just the situation. I know last year, (Toronto) had Biyombo on me – a bigger center. He went off in that one game – I think he had like 20 rebounds or something.
So, it’s one of those things, it’s like a game of chicken: Are you gonna keep your big in?
But now they’re smaller, so you would think that they would go smaller on that second unit.
And who knows what’s gonna happen with my minutes in this series. Like last series, Richard didn’t play that much and Shump did. So who knows? Richard might get my minutes in this series.
It’s all just about staying ready, being ready to go. I don’t ever think about like: ‘I’m gonna shoot well against this team or that.’ To be honest, I think I should shoot well against every team when I get open.
So for me, it’s just about opportunity and making sure I do my job.
Any thoughts on being – at this point – the top three-point shooter in Cavs postseason history?
Frye: (laughs) I don’t think I have enough of a body of work yet. It’s just 21 games; that’s not enough. Let’s see what happens this year.
But for me, I think it’s just me being ready and steady – and then having Kyle and Deron and James Jones and those guys, there’s a lot of pressure on me to keep my ‘J’ wet.
How much have the midseason additions – Kyle Korver, Derrick Williams, Deron Williams – helped you this year?
Frye: A lot. Because I think usually teams rotate to me fast, but they rotate like %#*%#@%’s over to Kyle!
So for me it gives me a little more open space. And just playing with those guys and knowing what they like and what they don’t like has been good. It’s helped me this year, just really evolved my game.
And we play a little more elbow action and just a lot more pin-downs with Kyle.
“Listen, on this team, I’ve gone from starting to playing 30 minutes a game to five minutes to DNPs. So for me, it’s just always staying ready and appreciating the opportunity to just play and be out there with the guys.”
Cavaliers Center Channing Frye
Have teams played you any different this year?
Frye: Yes and no. I think there’s really no choice on how to play me. I’m playing with the greatest player on the planet and one of the greatest scorers on the planet. So it’s pick your poison: us or them. That’s just kind of how it is.
For me, I’ve been trying to do better defensively during the Playoffs; I feel a lot better with my energy; I’m making sure I run to the corners. I’ve shot a lot more corner threes this year than I did last year.
With all the injuries at the center spot this year, you’ve had to play a lot of 5. How did you feel about that?
Frye: As long as I’m playing, man!
Listen, on this team, I’ve gone from starting to playing 30 minutes a game to five minutes to DNPs. So for me, it’s just always staying ready and appreciating the opportunity to just play and be out there with the guys.
I trust Coach Lue and, honestly, whatever decision he makes, I’ve been through it all. I know what a deep team that we have. Some series, I’m gonna play. Some, I might not. So you just have to be ready and make sure you stay in shape.
You joined the team in February last year, but now you’ve had a full season with this team. What’s that meant to you?
Frye: Oh, man … I am SO sick of these guys at this point!
No, I think we’ve evolved as a team and I think we’ll continue to evolve. I think we’re pushing ourselves to become the best we can be and it’s exciting.
But like last year, what I said in my article, you’re the best and it’s like, damn, how do you get better from the best? And I think you set expectations for yourself. We’ve done a good job with this group of vets – pushing each other day by day and appreciating the ups and downs of the season and what a circus this is.
How’s the team feeling heading into the Second Round?
Frye: I think we feel great. We had a couple days off. Guys’ legs feel good after our conditioning.
Now we’re gonna focus and really lock in and start to hate Toronto – probably as much as they hate us.