When a team is rolling on all cylinders, it is very easy to point out. The Cleveland Cavaliers (15-34) have reached the apex of that realization, as they have won five of their last seven contests. Playing at home helps as well and Cleveland has racked up a record of 5-1 at Quicken Loans Arena in their last six home games. The statistics have been way up at home too, especially in regards to bench production and ball movement. Cleveland will be going up against a team in the Orlando Magic (14-35) that they struggled with closing out in the fourth quarter in a matchup earlier this season. Cleveland walked away from Orlando with a 108-104 loss, but the free throws that J.J. Redick just simply couldn’t miss to end the game made it hurt much more. Luckily for the Cavs, Redick, Al Harrington and Glen Davis will all sit out Friday night’s game, while Arron Afflalo is probable and DeQuan Jones and Hedo Turkoglu are questionable:
Opponent’s Blog: Presto in the Paint
Venue: Quicken Loans Arena – Cleveland
Tipoff: Friday, Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Betting Line: Cavaliers by -6.5
Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio
Where you can listen: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)
With Redick out – he is currently averaging 15.3 points, 4.5 assists and 2.5 rebounds, while shooting 39.9 percent from three – this should be a game where the Cavaliers are favorites for the second game in a row. With the resurgence of the bench – thanks to Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington – Cleveland now ranks 24th in the league in regards to bench scoring. That says a lot for a team that was in the cellar of that category just a couple of weeks ago. The Magic’s bench ranks 19th in the NBA, but I do feel with the injuries that Orlando has had to deal with this season that Cleveland’s bench holds the advantage in this matchup. Young guns Gustavo Ayon and Kyle O’Quinn will be seeing plenty of time, and I think that the Cavs bench will be able to take advantage of their time on the court because of that.
A matchup that most people would think is in favor of the Cavaliers might go the other way if things don’t get rolling from an offensive standpoint early on. Last time these two teams met up, Jeremy Pargo was starting at point guard. Due to Kyrie Irving’s injury, Orlando point guard was able to cut loose and score 22 points on 4-of-8 shooting from three. Even though Dion Waiters was in the starting lineup for this particular game, his 25 points made little difference due to the backcourt duo of Nelson and Afflalo (who will suit up tonight). Both were lethal from beyond the arc, and the perimeter defense from Waiters and Irving hasn’t been the best. Nelson and Affalo are going to get buckets, but Cleveland’s young backcourt will have to limit their production and play good off-the-ball defense in order to put the rock into other shooter’s hands.
With Davis out, Cleveland will be going up against two starting rookies in Andrew Nicholson and Moe Harkless, who are averaging 7.3 and 4.8 points respectively. That means sophomore power forward Tristan Thompson and three-year player Alonzo Gee will have an experience advantage (finally). Gee hasn’t been an offensive presence this season, but his tight on-the-ball defense could cause Harkless to have some rookie fits. Get the Magic to crack, and the Cavaliers will put this game away as early as they did on Wednesday.