On Tuesday, April 3 at 7:00 p.m. the Cleveland Cavaliers will welcome the San Antonio Spurs to Quicken Loans Arena for a rematch of the 2007 NBA Finals.While one team has stayed consistent with their roster over the last five years, the other has zero players on that 2007 Finals stat sheet playing in the game on Tuesday.
It was probably pretty difficult to guess which team has undergone complete renovation since 2007. The Cleveland Cavaliers only have two players, Anderson Varejao and Daniel Gibson, on their current roster who played with the Cavaliers during their only Finals trip. Due to injuries suffered by both Gibson (ankle) and Varejao (wrist) no player who helped bring championship hopes to Cleveland will be playing Tuesday night. The Spurs, however, have Matt Bonner, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker on the roster from their last championship. Although old, there is an endless amount of playoff experience between those four players, something that the Cavaliers are lacking at the moment.
What Cleveland is also lacking is veteran leadership on the court, but that’s expected in a rebuilding environment. Duncan, Ginobili and Parker can’t expect to be leaders of the Spurs for ever because of age, but those three are a perfect testimony to what a knit group of players can achieve after being exposed to each other’s styles of plays for so long. The Cavaliers have a team to look up to Tuesday night. Maybe they’ll take something more than statistics away from the Spurs visit.
Cleveland Cavaliers (17-33, 9-17 home):
Key offensive statistics: 23rd ranked offense in NBA according to Newsday, averaging 93.3 points, 42.3 field goal percentage, 34.85 three-point percentage and 1.36 assist/turnover ratio
Key defensive statistics: 25th ranked defense in NBA according to Newsday, averaging 99.2 points allowed, 46.1 field goal percentage, 36.43 three-point percentage, 42.9 rebounds, 4.16 blocks and 7.42 steals
Player to watch: Cavaliers rookie point guard Donald Sloan, who made his first start on Saturday against the New York Knicks, should get the nod by head coach Byron Scott against the Spurs on Tuesday. Sloan finished the game with 10 points, four assists and seven rebounds, which was pretty good considering the emotions that were running wild with the young Sloan before game time.
With Parker most likely to be matched up against the other Parker, Sloan will do battle with former Cavalier Danny Green. Green didn’t contribute much in his time with Cleveland, but he’s proven himself a starter on the Spurs. Look for the two guards to show a lot of energy on the court.
Spurs (36-14, 15-10 away):
Key offensive statistics: 3rd ranked offense in the NBA according to Newsday, averaging 101.4 points, 46.8 field goal percentage, 38.88 three-point percentage and 1.76 assist/turnover ratio
Key defensive statistics: 17th ranked defense in the NBA according to Newsday, averaging 96.5 points allowed, 45.6 field goal percentage, 36.01 three-point percentage, 42.5 rebounds, 4.30 blocks and 7.20 steals
Player to watch: Along with Green, DeJuan Blair is one of two players on the Spurs roster to play in all 50 games for San Antonio this season. Blair is averaging 9.6 points and 5.7 rebounds this season and has answered Spurs coach Gregg Popovich call whenever he has asked him to play a big role. Blair will have a chance to log a career night with the many holes that the Cavaliers have still not filled down low.
Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving, shoulder, probable for Tuesday’s game. Daniel Gibson, ankle, out for season. Anderson Varejao, wrist, expected back in mid April.
Spurs – No injuries to report at the moment.