LAST TIME OUT
Another “moral victory” but another loss chalked up in the right-hand column, the Cleveland Cavaliers (11-23, 9-8 home) fought hard through and through against the best team in the East—the Indiana Pacers—on Sunday in an 82-78 losing effort. Despite struggling on offense, the Cavaliers (i.e. Dion Waiters) surged ahead and brought the game to within one. Then, after an odd play design that sent Waiters to the rim against Indiana center Roy Hibbert, the Cavaliers still had a chance at tying the game up. Down three, Cleveland couldn’t get the ball in to any of their first three options from out of bounds. So Earl Clark was handed the ball in the corner, but his foot was not in bounds, resulting in another excruciating late-game blunder.
THIS TIME UP
The Opponent: Philadelphia 76ers
Record: (12-22, 5-13 away)
Tipoff: Jan. 7 at 7 p.m. – Quicken Loans Arena
Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio/NBA League Pass
Where you can listen: WTAM 1100
Previous Matchup: 127-125 (2OT) Cavaliers win at Quicken Loans Arena – Nov. 9
Opponent’s Blog: The Sixer Sense
76ers: Arnett Moultrie (OUT, ankle)
Cavaliers: Luol Deng (OUT, acquired in trade/Achilles), Kyrie Irving (GAME-TIME DECISION, knee), Jarrett Jack (OUT, back)
Sixers Winners of Four of Their Last Five
The Sixers “surged” from second-to-last in the Eastern Conference to 11th this past week thanks to a four-game winning streak that came at the end of a five-game road trip out West. Following this contest at the Q, the Cavaliers will embark on their own lengthy road trip out West, where they haven’t fared that well on the season overall. It looked like the away games took a toll on the 76ers—especially their league-worst defense—as they returned to their regular form by allowing the Timberwolves to score 120-plus points on Philadelphia at home. I’m not asking for any miracles on offense from the Wine & Gold, but with the possibility of Irving returning tonight, it would be nice to see this team come close to triple digits for the first time since the overtime loss against the Warriors back on Dec. 29. Going into the trip with a win and newly acquired small forward Luol Deng would be a much-needed momentum boost for the Cavs.
Dion Waiters Versus his City
Remember those Dion Waiters’ trade rumors from a while back? That had him either going to the Bulls or the 76ers? Seems like eons ago, as Waiters has started to slowly improve his offensive game—especially at the rim—and has been doing all of this via coming off of the bench. Whether he likes it or not, I think he’s becoming acclimated with not hearing his name announced before tipoff, and realizes that he is receiving the most minutes at shooting guard anyways. We know that Jack will be out, and even though Irving participated in the morning shootaround, he could miss his fourth straight game. So that would mean that the Cavs would need Dion to step up once again as the scorer for this offense like he did against the Pacers. It will be a much different story going up against the 76ers D than the Indiana D, so expect better shooting percentages from Dion in this one. I’m sensing that Dion could breakout huge offensively in this contest.
Evan Turner Could Cause Fits For Cavaliers
Over the past five games for the 76ers, small forward Evan Turner has averaged 21.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.2 assists, while shooting 48.3 percent from the field. With Deng not being available for the Cavs on Tuesday that means we’ll have one more game of Earl Clark starting at the three, with Alonzo Gee minutes sprinkled in here and there. I don’t see the Cavaliers sticking Clark on Turner when the 76ers have the ball, but this could definitely be a task that Brown assigns for Gee. It’s hard to say what will happen, because Matthew Dellavedova could very well be starting at the point again. Whatever is the case, I think that Turner will definitely get his on Tuesday, which could be a ton of points.
I think that the Cavaliers have been given new life with Andrew Bynum now completely out of the picture. Even though Deng’s arrival to Cleveland won’t be felt on the court, making the playoffs is now a realistic possibility again. This trade will breed new life into the Cavaliers, and it starts Tuesday against a weak Philly squad. Double-digit victory at the Q coming your way before the team embarks on their Western travels.