INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown named Dion Waiters the team's fifth starter prior to tonight's game against the Miami Heat at Quicken Loans Arena after he learned point guard Kyrie Irving will be out of the lineup for at least two weeks because of an injury suffered in Sunday's loss at the Los Angeles Clippers.
In the first quarter of the 102-80 loss at Staples Center, Irving suffered a strained head tendon of his left biceps, according to a team press release.
Waiters will join veteran point guard Jarrett Jack in the backcourt with Matthew Dellavedova available off the bench.
"Dion deserves the right to start, especially at this point," Brown said following Tuesday's shoot around. "We want him running the floor. We don't want him coming back for the basketball because it slows the break down. Run the floor, run to the corners, rebound because he's got good size and athleticism, strength, keep attacking. We're going to keep the ball in his hands as much as possible.
"(He has) to defend, defend the whole shot clock and as close to 48 minutes as possible. It's going to be tough. You're going against starting guys, so you're not going to have a chance to take a deep breath because you've got guys that you're guarding that could go for 30 pretty easily."
Heat guard Dwyane Wade is one of those players Waiters will be responsible for guarding, and the second-year guard embraces the opportunity to test his skills against someone he holds in high regard.
"I think it's more exciting than difficult, just going against a guy like that, somebody you've looked up to," Waiters said. "You're chasing him. He's one of the best two guards to ever play the game, has won championships, and just to compete against him, it always brings the best out of you, no matter what. I look forward to the matchup. I look forward to tonight's game and going out there and playing against him.
"You've got to stay down. He's really good at the pump fakes, drawing the foul, and I've just got to be smart, be aggressive, but not too aggressive. It's hard. He knows how to draw fouls. You've just got to go out there, play your game, stay down, don't go for the pump fake."
Waiters has started only nine games for the Cavaliers this season, but has logged the fourth-most minutes of anybody on the roster. He has averaged 14.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, and shot at a 42.4 percent clip from the field in 55 games for the wine and gold.
"I'm just going in with the same mindset I had when I was coming off the bench: go in for the kill," Waiters said. "(It's about) just going out there, playing my game, letting everything come to me, not going out there trying to press and do things I normally don't do, just play the game and have fun.
"We've just got to pick it up and everybody's got to be together and play for each other. That's the biggest thing, losing a huge piece like that. We know coming in that we've just got to play the game, move the ball and have fun out there."
Waiters knows how Irving feels, as he missed significant time with an injury earlier in the year.
In the first game after the NBA All-Star Break, Waiters suffered a hyperextended left knee while throwing down a dunk near the end of the second quarter. Due to the injury, Waiters was out of the lineup for seven games, but was able to push himself to get back on the floor and help his team.
"I'm banged up, but it's a long season," Waiters said. "I've just got to fight through it, continue to fight through it, get treatment, continue to take care of my body, just play the game. It's still sore. I think it's not going to be 100 percent until after the season, but I'm not worrying about that right now. I've got to go out there, play through it."