So in case you missed it, Jeremy Pargo played the game of his life against the Philadelphia 76ers. Filling in for the injured Kyrie Irving, Pargo scored 28 points and lead the Cavaliers to 92-83 win in Cleveland. The win was only the Cavaliers third of the season, and gave them some hope when they needed it most. In the second game without Irving, the Cavaliers will take on the Orlando Magic in the first game of a three game road trip that will also see the Cavs travel to Miami and Memphis. Tip off is a 7pm, and the game will air live on Fox Sports Ohio. It will also air live on WTAM 1100 in Cleveland.
Let’s get one thing straight: Pargo is not the Cavaliers new star. He is not their bet chance to win, and he is still a far lesser player than Irving. His outburst against the 76ers was nothing more than a one game thing. It would be largely unwise for Coach Byron Scott to put all of his eggs in the Pargo basket. The strategy should be working through Anderson Varejao to create shots for Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee, Pargo, and others. This is especially true against Orlando, who do not have a big that can match up with Varejao for an entire game. If the Cavaliers do want to win games without their best player, they need to play through their second best player – end of discussion.
Orlando is a very winnable game for Cleveland. They don’t score a lot (only 88.5 points per game) and Aaron Afflalo is their leading scorer at 15. 0 points per game. As a whole, they are only shooting 43.1 percent from the field. Their most dangerous shooter is former Duke star J.J. Redick, but I think Waiters should be able to handle him pretty easily. The Magic, though, are very strong on defense – they only give up 92.5 points per game, good for sixth in the NBA. They also rebound at a high clip, pulling down 44.3 rebounds per game as compared to the Cavaliers 42.0 per game.
If everything clicks, the Cavaliers can win this game. They need Waiters to score, Varejao to continue to play at a high level, and for Pargo to make a limited number of mistakes. A key here is the health of Daniel “Boobie” Gibson. If he can play and be effective, he gives the Cavs a tool of the bench that can open the offense up in the paint. Look for a game a lot like the Cavs – Sixers game from last Sunday. It is going t be a grinding, low scoring game that could go one way or another. If the Cavs hit their shots and limit mistake, they could go 2-0 without Irving. If they don’t and they make a lot of mistakes, it could be the start of a long losing streak on the shores of Lake Erie.