Coming off of a huge win over the Los Angles Lakers in the return of Kyrie Irving, the Cleveland Cavaliers will get no rest, as tonight they play at Indiana against the Pacers. This will be the Cavaliers second game back for the aforementioned Irving, who was sensational against the Lakers, scoring 28 points and dishing out 11 dimes. Tonight’s game will air live FSN Ohio at 7 p.m. and will also broadcast live on WTAM 1100 in Cleveland.
The Pacers have been one of the more disappointing teams in the NBA thus far this season. Coming into the season, they were thought by many to be a sleeper team in the Eastern Conference after nearly beating the Miami Heat in the playoffs last season. However, they have been brought down by a knee injury to star player Danny Granger, whose return has yet to identified. To make matters worse, the once emerging Roy Hibbert (whom the Pacers paid big money to keep) has regressed this season, and is only averaging 9.8 points 8.2 rebounds with an atrocious 38.2 percent shooting from the field. The decline of Indiana has made the Central Division the most wide-open division in the NBA.
On a positive side, the Pacers have been getting good play from power forward David West. West leads the team in both scoring and rebounding, and has been the best player for Indiana by far this season. And as a whole, the Pacers are only one game out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 10-11. And it all honestly, it would not shock me to see the Pacers still win the division when Granger comes back.
This is a very winnable game for Cleveland. Irving is a far better player than Pacers starting point guard D.J. Augustine, and I like the chances of the Anderson Varejao/Tristan Thompson frontcourt to nullify the Pacers frontcourt of West and Hibbert. In my eyes, this game will come down to the role players of Cleveland. This is a game where Alonzo Gee, C.J. Miles and others need to play at their best. Also, I am interested to see who starts tonight at the shooting guard position, as Dion Waiters is still out with injury. My guess is that Miles gets the start, especially if Daniel Gibson misses tonight’s game with injury.
Expect this game to be relatively close, even though the Cavaliers have some advantages at many positions. In the end, though, I expect the Cavs to pull this game out behind Irving, who has an effect on the Cavaliers that few players in the NBA have. It may come down to the end, but look for the Cavaliers to go on the first winning streak of the season.
Omri Casspi, who has a stomach illness, is out for tonight’s game against the Pacers.