- LAST TIME OUT
- In their first nationally televised games of the season, the Cavaliers (4-11) fell to the Miami Heat 95-84 on Wednesday. The Cavs were often competitive (and the bench put up 55 points) but again Cleveland was done in in part to a low-scoring second quarter. Dion Waiters lead the Cavaliers with 24 points, while Kyrie Irving added 16. LeBron James led all scorers with 28.
THIS TIME UP
The Opponent: Boston Celtics
Record: 6-11 (2-5 at home)
Tipoff: Nov. 30, 7:30 PM at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts
Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio/NBA League Pass
Where you can listen: WTAM 1100
Previous Matchup: Heat 96, Cavaliers 95. April 15th, 2013 (Last Season)
Opponent’s Blog: Hardwood Houdini
Players to watch: Tristan Thompson and Jared Sullinger
Now, these two may not spend a ton of time going up against one another, as Sullinger is playing at lot of minutes at center for the Celtics (In fact, per 82games.com, the most effective Celtics lineup including Sullinger has him playing the five). Still, these are two young power forwards with a lot of upside, but different games. Thompson has shown to be a rebounding and defense oriented player thus far, while Sullinger is known primarily for his offense (although he has been playing better “D” as of late). And while both have shown upside, the jury is still out on whether or not they are a real piece for their respective teams.
For Thompson, he’ll be tested tonight against Boston’s Brandon Bass, but it’s one he should pass. Bass is smaller than the Cavaliers’ third year man and rebounds at a lower clip. And considering Thompson’s struggles as of late, this may be a matchup where he starts to get him looking as outstanding as he did early on, as Bass is solid but not anything special..
As for Sullinger, he’s going to be defending Andrew Bynum down low and he’s going to struggle. At 6’9″, he not nearly big enough to stop Bynum on the block. Expect the post ups to come early and often against the former Ohio State star.
How should the Cavaliers attack?
Despite the Celtics allowing the eighth fewest points in the NBA, I’m not too worried about the Cavaliers offensive output tonight. As I wrote above, Bynum gives the Cavaliers a huge advantage inside and, as a while, I think the Wine & Gold matchup well against Boston. For starters, the Cavaliers backcourt should be able to get solid looks often, as Jordan Crawford isn’t the best defender. The struggle will be with Kyrie Irving, who will likely be hounded by Avery Bradley, one of the league’s best on-ball defenders. Still, this a prime night for Irving, Waiters and Jack to get going early and stay hot. If Bynum can get going and in the flow early, the outside should open up and then the Cavaliers can break it out.
It’s a shame that C.J. Miles is still out – as I think he could really open up the offense – but may Sergey Karasev can provide something similar if he does indeed start. But all in all, I think this is a good game for the Cavaliers to get going and show something close to their full offensive potential.
Waiters Watch begins
Is any player more representative of the Cavaliers season thus far than Dion Waiters? The sophomore guard has drawn scorn for his play, reportedly has an icy relationship with Kyrie Irving and so much more. But he played well off the bench against Miami, scoring 24 points on 50 percent shooting. He also played with an edge, like he had something to prove and that’s a good sign moving forward. Still, he’s got a large magnifying glass on him now and we can’t know exactly how he is going to handle it.
Another interesting wrinkle will be how he handles an unproven and raw rookie (Karasev) getting the starting nod over him. Will he use it as motivation? Will he sulk and then play poorly? The answer to this question should tell us a lot about Waiters, as how he handles it should help us understand where he is really at despite telling the media that there was no truth to his trade demand. Let Waiters watch commence.
I think the Cavaliers will get it done in Boston, winning by seven or eight points. Expect to lots of Bynum posting up early and often. It may get ugly at times – as both teams are pretty terrible – but I think the Cavaliers are just a little less awful. I’ll take the Cavaliers 94, Celtics 87.