The Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves in one of their biggest slumps of the 2011-12 NBA season. The last time that Cleveland faced off against the Philadelphia 76ers they had a record of 10-16. At this point the Cavaliers were in an early-season fight with the Milwaukee Bucks and the New York Knicks for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Much has changed since that Feb. 8 matchup with the 76ers.
The Bucks have since made a trade for Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown with the Golden State Warriors, parting ways with Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson. The Bucks big move, that they hope will be enough to push them into that final playoff spot, has been overshadowed by the Linsanity that overtook New York, faded with the departure of head coach Mark D’Antoni and has just recently been reenergized.
The Cavaliers have gone in the opposite direction in terms staying competitive in the East. Since that last matchup between the 76ers, a 99-84 loss, the Cavaliers have gone 7-14, parted ways with Ramon Sessions, Christian Eyenga and Ryan Hollins and made many roster moves due to injuries sustained by key players. The Wine and Gold are in a rut, and it doesn’t seem like they have the players at the moment to dig themselves out of the five-and-a-half game separation the Knicks have opened up.
Regardless, the Cavaliers will try to bring an end to their losing ways Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. against the 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. Below are some important statistics to browse over before the game on Tuesday:
Cavaliers (17-29, 8-14 away):
Key offensive statistics: 94.5 points per game (21st overall in NBA), 42.6 field goal percentage (28th) and 42.9 rebounds per game (11th)
Key defensive statistics: 99.1 points allowed per game (23rd), 35.5 opposing team three-point percentage (17th) and 42.0 rebounds allowed per game (17th)
Player to watch: Last time around the 76ers did not get to see standout rookie guard Kyrie Irving, as he was out with an injury. Tuesday will be a different story, despite any shocking news, as Irving will be ready to face the 76ers for the first time in his career. Irving is shooting a team-best 41.0 percent from beyond the three-point arch, but is struggling when it comes to protecting the ball, turning over the ball 3.1 times per game. That statistic ranks him 14th in the NBA among turnover leaders and first overall among active rookies (Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio was averaging 3.2 turnovers per game before he suffered a season-ending injury).
Injury report: Antawn Jamison is listed as questionable with a left-ankle injury that he sustained Sunday against the Phoenix Suns, Daniel Gibson has missed the last six games with a strained groin and is questionable to play on Tuesday and Anderson Varejao is still out with the wrist injury he sustained on Feb. 10.
76ers (27-22, 17-10 home):
Key offensive statistics: 44.8 field goal percentage (13th), 36.6 three-point percentage (8th) and 43.6 rebounds per game (4th)
Key defensive statistics: 87.6 points allowed per game (1st), 41.9 opposing team field goal percentage (1st) and 31.2 opposing team three-point percentage (3rd)
Player to watch: Elton Brand, who leads the 76ers in rebounds (7.4 per game) and blocks (1.6 per game), will be a force to reckon with on the boards as the Cavaliers find themselves in the bottom half statically in rebounds allowed per game. Cleveland will have to limit the number of offensive rebounds that Brand and the 76ers grab in order to keep the game close. Giving Brand second chances will only lead to a 76ers blowout, as Philadelphia boasts one of the best defenses in the NBA.
Injury report: Andre Iguodala was scratched late from Sunday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs with left patella tendinitis and is considered questionable for Tuesday’s game and Craig Brackins, who has missed the last five games with a flu, is also considered questionable.