Central Notes: Monroe, Dinwiddie, Mirotic, Irving

The Pistons are getting a sneak peek at life without Greg Monroe, writes David Mayo of MLive.com. Monroe, who has been sidelined since hurting his knee in Monday’s practice, will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy said his absence is forcing big changes. “We post Greg a lot and we don’t have, really, that anymore,” Van Gundy said. “So that’s a tough element for us to miss. And we’re putting more and more on our point guards to make plays on pick and rolls. The post game’s not only effective for us, but gives guys a rest — throw it in, space the floor, spot up, catch your breath. It requires a lot more energy, the other stuff that we do, and that’s how we have to play now.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Spencer Dinwiddie is the one sure thing in the Pistons‘ point guard equation for next season, Mayo writes in a separate story. With Reggie Jackson entering free agency and Brandon Jennings hoping to recover from a season-ending injury, the Pistons are sure Dinwiddie will be around when they need him. Unlike most second-round picks, Dinwiddie has a fully guaranteed second year on his contract. Jennings’ misfortune has created extra playing time for the rookie out of Colorado, and although Dinwiddie’s shooting numbers aren’t impressive, other elements of his game have been. “How he’s playing, his composure, his poise on the floor, his ability to handle pressure, that’s all been good, his decision making,” Van Gundy said. “But he’s got to get the ball in the basket.”
  • Nikola Mirotic has been one of the few bright spots for the Bulls this month, according to Steve Aschburner of NBA.com. With Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson all sidelined by injuries, Mirotic has raised his game, averaging 20.8 points and 8.2 rebounds during March. Chicago acquired the rights to the 24-year-old rookie from Montenegro in a 2011 trade.
  • His team has far bigger goals, but Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving is taking time to enjoy his first official trip to the NBA playoffs, writes Chris Fedor of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Cleveland clinched a postseason spot with Friday’s win over the Pacers. “It’s an exciting moment,” Irving said. “It’s been four years. I was just talking to [Kevin Love], all of us coming together as a team and us making the playoffs for the first time is an awesome thing.”

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