When the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Memphis Grizzles tonight, it will be the first time Marresse Speights and Wayne Ellington will take on the their former Memphis teammates. Both men have become key components of this Cavaliers team and have been key in the recent improvements in the Cavaliers quality of play. Memphis, meanwhile, is 11-4 since trading star Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors. As it stands now, the Grizzlies are the fourth place team in the Western Conference.
Opponent’s Blog: Beale Street Bears
Venue: Quicken Loans Arena
Tipoff: 7:30 P.M
Betting Line: Grizzlies by 5 ½
Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio
Where you can listen: WTAM (1100), WFUN (970 AM)
Stylistically, this is a tough game for the Cavaliers. Up front, Memphis has two strong post players in center Marc Gasol and power forward Zach Randolph. Combined, the duo is averaging 19.5 rebounds. They are very good at controlling the paint on both ends, and against this Cavaliers team, expect to see that continue. With Tyler Zeller not being the most physical center, and Tristan Thompson giving up 33 pounds to Randolph, the Cavaliers will definitely be at a disadvantage on the inside.
On positive note, Randolph is going to be a game time decision for Memphis. If he is out, Memphis is much weaker up front that normal, and a vulnerable position becomes a strong point for Cleveland.
Like it is on most nights, the Cavaliers will have an advantage at the point guard position. Mike Conley has been solid for Memphis, but he won’t have a chance to stay in front of Kyrie Irving. If he can have a good game, and stay hot from the start, it will help the Cavaliers win this game.
The X-Factor here is the bench. With Speights, Ellington, C.J. Miles and company all coming off a strong game against the Jazz, there is a chance the Cavaliers can keep that momentum up and do big things with the bench.
One area the Cavaliers will need to improve on is their fast break scoring. The Cavaliers are at their best when they can run in the open floor and push the tempo of the game. They need to get Irving in the open where he can feed Miles and Ellington on the wings, while Zeller runs the middle and Thompson, Speights and Alonzo Gee get to the basket. Ideally, Dion Waiters will also be active tonight, adding another dimension to the Cavaliers offense.
If this week has shown me anything, the Cavaliers can compete with the leagues best. They beat the Jazz, currently a playoff team in the West, and almost beat the Knicks before collapsing in the second half. And In both of those games, the Cavaliers were without Waiters, who has quickly become of the Cavaliers go-scorers.
All in all, it’s going to be hard for the Cavaliers to win this game – especially if Randolph plays. But they can definitely win this game. They just need everything to go correctly and do really well in the fast break – and pray to the heavens that Irving does not have an off night.