LAST TIME OUT
The Cavaliers topped the Memphis Grizzles in overtime, 91-83, at The Q on Sunday. It was the team’s second consecutive victory, after they previously lost six in a row. The team was lead by Kyrie Irving’s 28 points. Following the back-to-back wins, the team climbed back within four games of the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot.
THIS TIME UP
The Opponent: Sacramento King
Tipoff: Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. – Quicken Loans Arena
Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio/ NBA TV
Where you can listen: WTAM 110
Previous Matchup: 124-80 Cavaliers loss at Sleep Train Arena – Jan. 12
Opponent’s Blog: A Royal Pain
Also, check out this cool report on NBA shooting since 1980.
Cavaliers: C.J. Miles (right foot, listed as day to day), Anderson Varejao (back, questionable)
Back to the Bench?
That is a question worth asking leading up to tonight’s contest versus the Kings for Jarrett Jack. He has been beyond dismal lately, especially since being moved into the starting lineup. In the past three games, he has been averaging 3.0 points and 0.3 assists. Tonight, I would call him the x-factor. In the first outing between the teams this season, where the Cavs lost by 44 points, Jack scored a solid two points and shot 1 of 6 from the field. If the team wants to erase that performance against the Kings and continue on their mini-winning streak, Jack is going to have to step up against one of the league’s worst defenses. No production out of the starting SG spot will not be tolerated anymore, and a game against the league’s 26th best defense is a great time for the veteran to find his confidence again.
We cannot go back in time and redraft, but just keep an eye on Sacramento’s Ben McLemore. The rookie’s name was thrown around leading up to last year’s draft as the potential top pick. I know because of his position it was unlikely the Cavs would have drafted him, but they had their chance if they wanted to. This season he has been inconsistent, but has shown flashes of living up to the lottery pick that he was. His totals for the year are 7.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 33 percent from downtown. The matchup between him and Dion will be interesting on the defensive end, too. So as you watch the game tonight, just close your eyes and envision him in Wine & Gold. His level of play will definitely impact the end result of tonight’s battle.
As mentioned earlier, the last time these two teams squared off the Cavs were in the second game of their Western Conference swing, and they got royally embarrassed. The Cavaliers cannot let a team, who has a lower winning percentage, come onto the floor of The Q and do that again. They did not do much right in the first matchup, so there is a lot to improve on. The Wine & Gold must attack the rim to try and draw fouls on Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins. They have no one on the team to guard him, especially since Andy might be out for the game. The best way to make him a non-factor is to attack the rim, draw fouls and force him to spend unwanted time on the bench. This means the Cavalier wing plays must not be afraid to get into the paint, especially for those players not named Dion or Kyrie. Everyone must put the ball on the floor and get to the hoop. It is the easiest way to limit Cousins’ role in the game.
The Cavs have gained a little momentum — and I really mean a little — since the firing of GM Chris Grant. In the midst of the two consecutive victories, the team has shown some good signs. Tonight, I do expect the team to keep the winning streak going. The first time these two teams met, I am not sure what happened to the Cavs. I think the team is going to try hard not to get embarrassed by 44 points again, so that bodes well. I like the Wine & Gold tonight by a score of 108-103. I expect a lot of offense in a game between two bottom-half teams that struggle defensively.