Dec 12 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers center Ian Mahinmi (28) goes up for a shot in the lane against Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tyler Zeller (40) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeated Cleveland 96-81. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers Preview: Indiana Pacers at Cavs

Well, the world didn’t end (yet), so the Cleveland Cavaliers will go on and have their matchup against the Indiana Pacers on Friday at Quicken Loans Arena. It will be the second of four matchups between the two teams this season, as the Cavs dropped their first contest with the Pacers in Indiana by a score of 96-81. Despite Cleveland’s recent struggles, the Wine and Gold have won 11 of their last 15 games against the Pacers at home, which is a good sign. Cleveland has yet to beat a Central Division opponent since February 21 when they eked out a victory against the Detroit Pistons. The game will tipoff at 7:30 p.m. and can be watched on Fox Sports Ohio. It will also be broadcasted over the radio on WTAM 1100. Here are some statistics to get you ready for the game:

Cavaliers (5-22, 3-8 home)

Offensive Efficiency – 97.7 (27th)

Pace – 94.4 (16th)

Turnover Ratio – 14.3 (19th)

Effective Field Goal Percentage – 46.2 (28th)

Defensive Efficiency – 106.9 (27th)

Average Points – 94.1 (23rd)

Average Rebounds – 42.1 (15th)

Average Assists – 19.3 (29th)

Average Points Allowed – 100.4 (23rd)

Pacers (14-12, 6-9 away)

Offensive Efficiency – 97.7 (27th)

Pace – 92.8 (25th)

Turnover Ratio – 14.5 (23rd)

Effective Field Goal Percentage – 46.4 (26th)

Defensive Efficiency – 96.2 (2nd)

Average Points – 91.6 (28th)

Average Rebounds – 46.1 (1st)

Average Assists – 19.8 (26th)

Average Points Allowed – 90.5 (3rd)

Between three of Indiana’s three starters, Roy Hibbert, David West and Paul George, they corral a combined 23.4 rebounds per game. Those three make up the core of one of the NBA’s best rebounding teams. That could be a very unfavorable matchup for the Cavaliers, as Anderson Varejao, who missed the last contest against the Boston Celtics, is a game-time decision for tonight. With the Pacers having won four of their last five games, including their victory on December 12 against the Cavs, this could be another ugly Central Division struggle for the Wine and Gold.

Without Varejao, the other Cavalier bigs haven’t been able to get the job done. This problem starts with Tristan Thompson, whom has been the most frustrating player donning a Cleveland uniform to watch all season. Andy will put up the double-digit rebounding numbers game in and game out, but Thompson hasn’t stepped up in the Wild Thing’s absence at all. He’s bringing down around eight boards a game, but isn’t the defensive presence that General Manager Chris Grant brought him in to be. He looks clueless at times on the offensive end as well, coming up weak at times when trying to get put-back points. Thompson and Tyler Zeller, who has come on as of late, will have to step up against the aggressive rebounding team that the Pacers are if they want to continue their trend of beating the Pacers at home.

Still, the Pacers are a team that has struggled to put up points, mostly due to missing star player Danny Granger. However, the trio of West, George and George Hill has been able to keep the offense stable. They rank among the lowest scoring teams in the NBA, but the Cavaliers are right there with them. The Wine and Gold will have to use the absence of one of their better players, who averaged 18.7 points and 5.0 rebounds last season, to their advantage.

With Kyrie Irving now back into the flow of things (was he really ever out of it?) after coming back from his injury six games ago, he will have a chance to redeem himself. He scored a season-low nine points against the Pacers in his second game back after his 28-point outburst, so Irving will definitely be looking to carry the load on offense to get back at one of the stingiest defenses in the league. If Varejao is indeed out for a second-straight game, Irving will have to take over at one point or another in this contest.

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Tags: Anderson Varejao Cleveland Cavaliers Kyrie Irving Tristan Thompson

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