LAST TIME OUT
The Cavs lost at Houston 106-92 on Saturday night, in a game that was decidedly not that bad. Houston’s a good team, and after getting overrun in the first quarter, but actually playing pretty evenly with the Rockets for the final three. Luol Deng pounded the Rockets for 24 points to lead the team, and Dion Waiters chipped in 19 off the bench. However, the Rockets’ stars predictably controlled this game, as James Harden went for 28, Dwight was 10-12 from the field for 26 points and six rebounds, and Jeremy Lin had a triple-double off the bench. This, of course, was followed by a scathing report from Jason Lloyd late Saturday night, saying that Kyrie doesn’t care, Dion and Kyrie’s relationship is deteriorating, and that chemistry and morale is at an all-time low.
THIS TIME UP
The Opponent: Dallas Mavericks
Record: 27-21 (16-8 Home)
Tipoff: February 3rd at 8:30 p.m. – American Airlines Center
Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio/NBA League Pass
Where you can listen: WTAM 1100
Previous Meeting-Mavericks 102, Cavaliers 97 on January 20th
Opponent’s Blog: The Smoking Cuban
Mavericks: F Shawn Marion (QUESTIONABLE-shoulder), F Gal Mekel (OUT-knee)
Cavaliers: C Anderson Varejao (QUESTIONABLE-knee), G Carrick Felix (OUT-Knee Fracture)
So, Yeah, About This
It’s very difficult to get focused on this game with all of the extra-curricular crap going on around the Cavaliers right now. Kyrie’s unhappy and overwhelmed. Luol Deng’s unhappy. Varejao’s still out with a knee bruise. The GM might be a lock to get fired, as well as a lock to make a really dumb trade any minute now. Dion is speaking in third-person. None of this beneficial to the on-court product the Cavs are producing right now, which has been absolutely dreadful in the past week. I don’t see any way this begins to resolve itself on two-days rest in Texas, and I think the on-court product will continue to suffer for a few games as this works itself out, either via internal resolution or by trade/firings. This is not going to be a fun game, by any means.
MONTABALL. The one great thing about this game is that the Mavericks are entertaining, and even if the Cavs are getting murdered, we get to see Monta Ellis go to work. Monta hasn’t been shooting well from three-point range lately, going for just 24 percent from deep in January. However, even though he hasn’t produced the same crazy numbers he did to begin the season, he’s still hovering around a very productive 20/3/6 for the season. Monta’s a tough matchup for any shooting guard, due to his quickness and complete disregard for predictability. This is going to be a tough defensive assignment for C.J. Miles, Dion Waiters, and Jarrett Jack tonight, because Monta can still go for crazy numbers even when he’s being well-guarded. I’d hope to see a lot of Dion as the primary shooting guard tonight, because he’s the team’s best defensive two-guard. Also, because these two could have a Swag-off, which is always fun. At this point in the season, if I can just watch Monta and Dion play in-game H-O-R-S-E for four quarters, I’d be happy.
What to Expect from Kyrie?
Kyrie Irving has had it rough in the past few weeks, getting shredded by the media and having the locker room collapse around him. On the court, he hasn’t been bad, but there really hasn’t been a “WOW!” performance from him since really the last game against the Mavericks, when he posted 26 points and 9 assists in the comeback attempt. Therefore, I think tonight’s game against Dallas could be huge for him. Kyrie having a huge performance could really help with his confidence right now, and it seems like this is an opponent he should have some success with, because Jose Calderon is really struggling right now. In the last month, Calderon has shot just 42 percent from the field and 37 percent from three, and his assist and defensive numbers are down from where he’s been throughout the season. Devin Harris hasn’t been a better alternative this season, and while Monta is a half-decent defender, this is still a unit Kyrie should have some definite success against. If he has a big night tonight, not only should it keep the Cavs in this game, but it also might help this team come together around him a little bit, which would be huge for the long-term health of this team.
I think this needs to be a game where the Cavs come out with some energy to win, and I don’t see that happening. I think Kyrie will have a good game, and that will be a positive, but outside of that I can’t see anyone else on the team really having any fire after what happened this weekend. Therefore I see this being another loss, but if Kyrie and some of the other struggling players (Anthony Bennett, Tristan Thompson, etc.) have good games, maybe there can still be some positives to come from this.