LAST TIME OUT
The Suns showed why they’re the surprise playoff contender between these two teams, battling back from 18 points down at half to deliver a 99-90 win over the Cavs. The Suns outrebounded the Cavs by a large margin in the second half, and held Cleveland to just six points in the third quarter during their roaring comeback. Markieff Morris went nuts on the Cavs with 27 points and 15 rebounds, while Goran Dragic went for 15/5/7. Kyrie Irving had a nice night with 24 points and nine assists, but Anderson Varejao was a disaster on offense, and the Cavs went cold at the wrong time to drop to 1-3 on their home stand.
THIS TIME UP
The Opponent: New Orleans Pelicans
Record: 18-25 (8-14 road)
Tipoff: January 28th at 7:00 p.m. – Quicken Loans Arena
Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio/NBA League Pass
Where you can listen: WTAM 1100
Last Meeting-Pelicans 104, Cavaliers 100 on November 22nd, 2013
Opponent’s Blog: Pelican Debrief
Pelicans: G Jrue Holiday (OUT – Stress Fracture), F Ryan Anderson (OUT – Herniated disc), C Jason Smith (OUT – Knee)
Cavaliers: C Anderson Varejao (QUESTIONABLE – knee contusion)
Stopping the Brow
Clearly there is no bigger challenge to the Cavaliers tonight than in stopping Anthony Davis. The 2012 number one pick has been generating box score porn all season, averaging 20 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, two steals, and three blocks per game. Davis put up nearly exactly those numbers in the Cavs’ last game against the Pelicans, going for 17/13 and three blocks in a 104-100 win. The big challenge for the Cavs will continue to be that they lack a player who can really match up with Davis physically. Tristan Thompson isn’t technically sound enough in covering a player that can move like Davis can. Anderson Varejao isn’t fast enough. Tyler Zeller honestly might be the ideal choice athletically, but Davis could kill him on the offensive end. It’s going to be very interesting to see just how the Cavs attempt to deal with Davis, because he could kill the Cavs by himself on both ends.
Sloppy But Fun!
That’s how this game should look tonight. Both teams get out in transition consistently, and are very effective in converting on these looks. The Pelicans are third in the league in scoring in transition; the Cavs are seventh. Both of these teams also run a lot of pick-and-roll, and are fairly creative in getting good looks off of this set. New Orleans bases their entire offense around them, and the Cavs have one of the best PNR point guards in the league. Add in Anthony Davis, and this game’s going to be incredible to watch. Granted, there are plenty of things that these teams struggle with. The Cavs’ struggles are well documented all over this site, and New Orleans really isn’t a good rebounding team and is pretty banged up. However, the amount of fun things both of these teams do on the offensive end is going to make this a game worth watching.
Responding to Sunday
Sunday’s second half might have been one of the Cavs’ worst stretches of basketball this season. The Suns really didn’t do anything spectacular to the Cavs in that half, but the Cavs just fell apart in every aspect of the game. As the Suns kept getting buckets to draw the lead closer to even, the Cavs just looked stagnant and couldn’t seem to find any sort of continuity on either end of the floor. Tonight, the Cavs need a good response to that game. Putting a game like that behind you is important, especially in a game where the Cavs have a very tough matchup against a very athletic team like they do tonight. They absolutely cannot come out flat again, as that will be a doom scenario against the Pelicans. The Cavs really haven’t put together a good showing on this home stand, and a good close-out is essential, especially with the rough stretch of games coming up. Another loss tonight because the team just couldn’t find itself? That’s going to be very discouraging.
I’m not sure the Cavs have an answer for Anthony Davis offensively. However, the Cavs could still give up a monster night to Davis and be okay. New Orleans really doesn’t have a good answer for Luol Deng, and if the Cavs can get hot from three-point land, I’m not sure that the Pelicans, who rarely shoot threes and aren’t great rebounders, can keep up with the Cavs. This should be an entertaining contest, and will probably be a close one like the last one. I’m betting the Cavs come out and look better tonight than they did in the second half on Sunday, but I still think Davis is too much for them to handle. I see another close Pelicans victory on the way.