LAST TIME OUT
With their new addition, Luol Deng, the Cleveland Cavaliers (13-23, 3-15 away) started off their five-game trip out West on the right foot, beating the Utah Jazz 113-102 behind a huge third quarter from Kyrie Irving and the Wine & Gold supporting staff. Tristan Thompson looked to be in pure double-double form again—a form that thrived in the beginning of the 2013-14 season—notching his 16th one on the season. The Utah Jazz aren’t a very good basketball club this season, but it was nice to see the Cavs enter triple digits in the scoring column on the road.
THIS TIME UP
The Opponent: Sacramento Kings
Record: 12-22 (8-13 home)
Tipoff: Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. – Sleep Train Arena
Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio/NBA League Pass
Where you can listen: WTAM 1100
Previous Matchup: 124-119 Cavaliers loss at Sleep Train Arena – Jan. 14
Opponent’s Blog: A Royal Pain
Kings: PF Carl Landry (OUT, hip)
Boogie, Boogie, Boogie
DeMarcus Cousins is making the most out of his situation in Sacramento this season, and because of it, he has developed into a potential All-Star and one of the best big men in the League. One of the most important things he has done for the Kings this season came off the court, however. During one of Sacramento’s slides this season, Cousins called a players-only meeting to rally the troops a few days ago after a loss against the Charlotte Bobcats. That shows growth far beyond anything that Cousins has displayed on the court this season, even though he has immensely improved as a two-way player down low. But more on what he has done on the court: He’s poised for a huge game against the Cavs’ frontcourt. With still no real threat down low defensively, Cleveland will need some extra help in slowing down Boogie, who is averaging 23.5 points and 11.5 rebounds this season so far.
Kings “Boast” Third-Worst Defense in League Statistically
The Cavaliers pounded the worst defense in the League from a statistical standpoint in the best game thus far during the post-Bynum era against the Philadelphia 76ers. How were they able to do this? By passing the ball, of course, and Kyrie Irving has the perfect chance against the Kings, who surrender 104.3 points per game and 23.3 assists per game, to show his sharing side like he did against the 76ers. Even though Dion Waiters was involved in this strange method called sharing the ball, Waiters had one of his best scoring games as a pro last season against the Kings in Sacramento, so I don’t think he’ll be passing the ball a whole lot on Sunday. This spark may have been caused by Dion’s move to the bench last season, which has become his permanent role this season. Against the reserve guards of the Kings, Dion is also poised for a huge game against the Kings.
Luol Deng Versus Rudy Gay
Now we’re not going to see numbers like these in the 2014 matchup of Deng and Gay via basketball-reference.com:
Player G W L GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS Rudy Gay 13 7 6 12 36.1 6.2 15.1 .408 1.2 2.8 .417 3.4 4.5 .759 1.5 3.8 5.2 1.8 1.7 0.9 3.2 2.3 16.8 Luol Deng 13 6 7 13 35.9 6.8 15.1 .454 0.6 2.1 .296 3.2 4.2 .745 1.7 3.5 5.2 3.0 1.2 0.3 1.7 1.5 17.5
But we’ll definitely see a more active Deng than what we saw against the Jazz on Friday. Granted, the Cavaliers were limiting Deng’s minutes because of his Achilles, but he said he feels great and should be good for much more playing time in this contest. Due to Gay being a high-volume shooter, Deng will be much more involved defensively this time around. Make sure to pay close attention to these two Sunday evening.
I know it’s strange to think that the Cavaliers could start a five-game road trip 2-0, especially since the Cavs went into this West Coast tour only winning two prior away matches, but it’s going to happen. Boogie is going to boogie all over the Cavs down low, but other than that, I believe the Wine & Gold will head into Los Angeles with an undefeated start to their trip. Expect another triple-digit game by the Cavs.