LAST TIME OUT
After beating the Memphis Grizzlies at the Q in overtime a week prior, Memphis was able to overcome a second-half deficit to best the Cavaliers, 110-96, this past Saturday. After totaling 65 points in the first half, the Cavs floundered in the second half, as Zach Randolph and gang physically abused the Cavs over the final 24 minutes.
THIS TIME UP
The Opponent: San Antonio Spurs
Record: 43-16 (22-8 away)
Tipoff: Tuesday, March 4 at 7 p.m. — Quicken Loans Arena
Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio/NBA League Pass
Where you can listen: WTAM 1100
Previous Matchup: 126-96 loss at the AT&T Center — Nov. 23, 2013
Opponent’s Blog: Air Alamo
Cavaliers: SG C.J. Miles (OUT, ankle), C Anderson Varejao (OUT, back), SG Dion Waiters (EXPECTED, knee)
Spencer Hawes x Tyler Zeller
This has by far been my favorite duo of the new-look Cavaliers. Hawes has the ability to spread the floor, and Zeller is finally getting the hang of positioning himself down low as an effective big man. Although the Spurs are a pretty balanced team all around, Hawes and Zeller will cause problems in regards to spreading the San Antonio frontcourt with their diverse skill sets. Having two big men roam in different positions on offense opens up a lot of possibilities for other players on the Cavs, such as Kyrie Irving.
What Does Dion Waiters’ Return Mean?
It means that the possibilities for offensive production increases tenfold. Dion has been nursing a knee injury as of late, but I expect him to come out of the gate–not too aggressively–and cause problems for the San Antonio backcourt on offense. Kyrie’s skill set has finally emerged past a one-dimensional style of play, and this benefits Waiters directly. Look for the two guards to work together to try to keep pace with the Spurs’ high-scoring squad.
Anything Is Possible
Remember last week when the Cavs looked just about down against the Thunder in OKC? That was by far Cleveland’s most impressive win of the season, and even though the Spurs dismantled the Cavs on the road last time around, this team has a new makeup and is rejuvenated. If Cleveland can avoid a first-half blowout (stay within less than 10 points), then Cleveland could be heading into Charlotte on Friday with a good chance to make a huge push into the playoff picture.
Although I sounded pretty optimistic in this preview, I still think Cleveland will come up short at home against the defending West champs. It won’t be a blowout, but Cleveland won’t be making a step forward in the East playoff race Tuesday night.