Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs Charlotte Bobcats
What: NBA Basketball – Cavaliers Home Game
When: 7:00 PM ET
Where: Live at Quicken Loans Arena
|Cleveland||14-34||99.7 (26)||106.9 (27)||95.1 (9)|
|Charlotte||11-36||98.6 (29)||108.3 (30)||94.4 (13)|
Cleveland: Daniel Gibson (Probable)
Charlotte: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (OUT)
|PG||Kyrie Irving||Kemba Walker|
|SG||Dion Waiters||Gerald Henderson|
|SF||Alonzo Gee||Jeffery Taylor|
|PF||Tristan Thompson||Jeff Adrien|
|C||Tyler Zeller||Bismack Biyombo|
|6th Man||Marreese Speights||Ramon Sessions|
1- STATS: Both of these teams like to play as fast as possible and are bottom-5 in most statistical categories. Cleveland has a slight advantage on the glass, as they’ve been respectable in Rebounding Rate (49.3; 19th) — Charlotte, not so much (47.9; 27th). Will the team that wins the battle on the boards have then edge tonight?
Spencer: If the Bobcats come with the effort on the boards that they brought in Miami on Monday night then they certainly have a chance. Marreese Speights has been a huge piece for the Cavs since coming to Cleveland from Memphis in the salary dump trade for the Grizz. When you basically have a starting center coming off the bench with your second unit, it’s going to give you serious front court depth- exactly the opposite of what Charlotte has. I think Mullens will see significantly less time on the floor tonight, which puts a lot of pressure on Haywood, Biz and Adrien to clean up on the glass.
Brett: I’ll agree to that, since the Cavs are one of the few offenses in the league that shoot less efficiently than Charlotte (CLT 50.9% TS%, CLE 50.8%). Since both teams aren’t much for scoring points efficiently, it will come down to whichever team gives themselves more opportunities – be it through forcing turnovers or grabbing offensive rebounds.
Conrad Kaczmarek (Fear The Sword): Uh, maybe. Some of those numbers are slightly skewed for Cleveland because they used to have Anderson Varejao, the NBA’s leading rebounder when he was playing. But now, they do not have Anderson Varejao. While Tristan Thompson has stepped up admirably in Andy’s absence, it was really the combination of Andy and Tristan that made the Cavaliers solid on the boards. Now that it’s just Tristan carrying the load (and not getting much help from Tyler Zeller), the Cavs aren’t quite as good. All of that said, I think Tristan gives the Cavaliers a nice advantage on the offensive boards. If the Cavs can get lots of second chance opportunities, that just means more Kyrie Irving. If Tristan can get some help from Zeller, as well as from Marreese Speights, the Cavs should be in good shape.
2- KYRIE IRVING: It’s so apparent to me every time I get to watch this kid that’s he’s the next big thing in this league. What a fun and unique talent he is. —Conrad: What have you seen teams try to do against him defensively to limit him and what’s been most successful? —QCH: The Bobcats should have learned their lesson last time out (1/4 @Charlotte) when Irving dropped 33 and provided the dagger to win as time expired. How would you counter his talent defensively?
Spencer: Even though Lebron went a ridiculous 13-14 from the field on Monday night and seemed to just get whatever he wanted against Charlotte, just hear me out for a second. The Bobcats did a much better job of getting the ball out of King James hands when he caught the ball on the wings — they were able to shadow him with Biz and demand the Heat find another option. When Lebron got the ball at the top of the key is when Charlotte was a duck out of water and simply had to hope whoever was defending him could stay in front/keep him out of the lane. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. Tonight, the Bobcats will be faced with a tough test against Kyrie Irving and they know all about what it’s like to get sliced by this guy. Throughout the first 3/4 of the game I would try a combo of Kemba/Taylor/Hendo on him to hopefully force him to change the way he attacked offensively. If the Bobcats find themselves in a similar situation in the 4th quarter as they did back on 1/4, then Dunlap has got to start blitzing Irving with double teams to get the ball out of his hands.
Brett: A defensive minded point guard would be a good place to start- but since Charlotte doesn’t have one of those, we will probably see Gerald Henderson and Jeff Taylor play a few minutes on Irving (when the Cavs shooting guard matchup allows it) to make him work a little harder for his points. The Bobcats could also blitz Irving on pick and rolls to force the ball out of his hands, though that risks him splitting the double and creating a man advantage for the Cavs.
Conrad: I’ve seen teams try to make Kyrie drive to the left. That doesn’t work. I’ve seen teams try to make Kyrie drive to the right. That doesn’t work either. I’ve seen teams sag off and go under screens and he just shoots open jumpers. I’ve seen teams try to switch and end up with a big trying to guard him. That REALLY doesn’t work (ask Serge Ibaka or Kendrick Perkins). The truth is that Kyrie Irving really doesn’t have any apparent flaws on the offensive end. He shoots the ball extremely well and drives to the basket at will. Sometimes try to trap him and bring double teams, but it’s awfully hard to get him to give up his dribble since he has arguably the best handle in the league. I’m being serious when I say that I truly have no idea what you would do to stop him. It appears that if he wants to score, he’s going to at least get a good look at the basket. The only real advice I can give is not to let him get into isolation. According to Synergy, his 1.08 PPP on isolation plays is good for 3rd in the NBA. Nobody is stopping him one-on-one. It takes good rotations and timely double-teams to try to get the ball out of his hands.
3- PICK IT: Charlotte has been very competitive in the last two games — holding 4th quarter leads against a playoff bound Rockets team and the defending champ Heat. Cleveland got a huge win at home against Oklahoma City in their last outing. Who wins tonight and why?
Spencer: I worry that Charlotte used tons of energy on Monday night and will come out flat tonight. The Cats really wanted to win in Miami and sold out, especially defensively, to try and make that happen. One player on Cleveland really gives me concern and his last name doesn’t start with an ‘I’ — Marresse Speights. He should be matched up against Mullens and the second unit for most the night, which means that he should get quite a few high percentage opportunities around the basket and pull down valuable offensive rebounds that will give the Cavs the one thing Charlotte can’t afford to allow, second chances. 102-95 Cavs.
Brett: I’ll take the Cavs, because of Irving and because of the rebounding battle mentioned in Q1. The Cavs aren’t a great offense, but they are a great offensive rebounding team, which the Bobcats struggle with. So great offensive rebounding + great player in Kyrie = Cavs win.
Conrad: I’m picking the Cavaliers in a fairly easy one. They’ve been off since Saturday and are at home. The new members of the bench unit (Speights, Wayne Ellington, Shaun Livingston) have been a huge boost. Last time out, the Cavs looked like they were going to blow out the Bobcats but then let them get back into the game. It seems as though the new infusion of veterans into the Cavs’ lineup prevents such blatant and inexcusable letdowns. Cavs win 105-90.