The Cleveland Cavaliers travel to Minnesota this Friday to try and change their losing ways against the Minnesota Timberwolves. They enter tonight’s contest losers of 13 of their last 15 games.
While that stat is eye popping, it should be noted that the schedule makers have not been kind to the Cavaliers. Not only have they played the second most games so far, but of the 19 games, 13 of them haven been away from the Q. They also have played one of the league’s toughest schedules thus far.
Combine this with the fact that the Cavaliers have been without Kyrie Irving, and most recently Dion Waiters, and you find a team that is just struggling to come up with answers on the offensive side of the ball.
They do play well on the road, however. They upset the Los Angeles Clippers and Atlanta Hawks, and gave Miami, Orlando and Phoenix all they could handle.
Meanwhile the Timberwolves, whom have well documented injury struggles themselves, have weathered the storm pretty well. They are 8-9 and are just now starting to get Kevin Love settled back in to the rotation. They are still missing several key players, most notably Chase Budinger, Andrei Kirilenko, and last year’s phenom Ricky Rubio.
Here is how they match up statistically:
Minnesota Offense – 93.3 ppg (24th), 42.8 field goal percentage (25th), 21st in NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio
Cleveland Offense – 95.3 ppg (21st), 41.5 field goal percentage (28th), 30th in NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio
Minnesota Defense – 93.0 opponents ppg (5th), 43.6 opponents field goal percentage (11th), 45.2 rebounds per game (4th)
Cleveland Defense – 100.8 opponents ppg (24th), 48.5 opponents field goal percentage (30th), 42.6 rebounds per game (11nd)
Minnesota has a clear advantage on the defensive side of the ball, as they are ranked in the top five in points and rebounds per game. They play even better at home, where they are only giving up only 90 points per game. The Cavaliers meanwhile remain near the bottom in most defensive categories other then rebounding.
The offenses are pretty similar across the board, with the Cavaliers actually scoring more then the Timberwolves. Minnesota does have the advantage in assist-to-turnover ratio, due to the solid play of their veteran point guards Luke Ridnour and J.J Barea. Jeremy Pargo, whom is only averaging a 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio, has done better recently. The last three games his assist-to-turnover ratio has been 2.86. He will have to keep it up for the Cavaliers to stay in this game.
Another intriguing match up will be the rebounding battle between Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao. You would be hard pressed to find two people who want a rebound more then these two. Just watching them do battle will be worth the price of admission.
The Bottom line – Minnesota’s defense is tough, especially at home, and the Cavs will be without their two best offensive threats. However, the Cavs do tend to play well when you least expect it. Thus I think this to be a close low scoring game till the end. One important rebound by Andy, or Kevin Love, could be the difference.