Cavs look to continue recent winning ways on Friday at Pelicans

Larry Nance Jr., Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Larry Nance Jr., Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Cavaliers look to continue their recent winning ways on Friday, as they face the New Orleans Pelicans on the road.

On Friday, the young squads representing the Cleveland Cavaliers and New Orleans Pelicans’ franchises bout in this duel of up-and-comer and not quite there yet.

The Cavs are 13th in the Eastern Conference, while the Pelicans look just out of the playoffs at 10th in the Western Conference.

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These teams are not exactly going for the title this year, but since J.B. Bickerstaff has taken the reigns as Cleveland’s head coach, the Cavs are 3-1 and are playing much better. For Cleveland, hopefully their young guards in Darius Garland and Collin Sexton can keep up their good play.

Since Bickerstaff has been the Cavs’ head coach, Garland has put 13.8 points on 47.8 percent shooting, which includes a 44.4 percent three-point shooting clip, to go with 4.3 assists per game, according to

Sexton, who is fresh off a 28-point performance in Cleveland’s win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, has put up a team-leading 20.8 points per outing in these last four on 44.8 percent shooting, which includes him hitting 42.9 percent from downtown, to go with 4.0 assists per game.

Meanwhile from the Pelicans’ side of things, their current position is enough for them to try to win to keep making a push for the postseason.

It is easy to tell why the youth of these teams will be plenty exciting enough to watch, though.

New Orleans is more ready to roll now that the wait for Zion Williamson is done, and his cautiously late debut from coming off a reported meniscus injury is over. The Pelicans are led by breakout wing, Brandon Ingram, who has averaged 24.7 points per game this season, to go with 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per outing, per, and Williamson has made his presence felt in a big way already.

The number one pick in the 2020 NBA Draft has put up 23.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in 13 appearances, per Lonzo Ball will be there at point guard to set them up as usual, along with a terrific two-way contributor in combo guard Jrue Holiday, as well.

Anyhow, Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr. and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ frontcourt will have to keep Williamson and Derrick Favors off the offensive glass and contain them as lob threats. Andre Drummond is listed as out because of his reported calf injury, so Thompson again will have a bigger workload, but that’s nothing new for him.

Additionally, with Dante Exum reportedly out for a while due to a sprained left ankle, and Alfonzo McKinnie still reportedly battling plantar fasciitis in his left foot, we could see Bickerstaff utilize Nance Jr. at the 3, Love at the 4 and Thompson at the 5 again.

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Those three on the floor together with combinations of Garland and Sexton/Kevin Porter Jr. have paid off for the Cleveland Cavaliers in their last two wins over the Sixers and played an integral role in Cleveland’s huge comeback on Monday against the Miami Heat, of which our own Corey Casey broke down in-depth.

Moreover, the Cavs could really use another big outing from Sexton and efficient scoring and playmaking from Garland/Porter Jr. to help balance out a powerful guard combo of J.J. Redick, an instinctive playmaker and defender in Ball and of course, Holiday. Let’s not dismiss the quality wing play of Josh Hart, either, however.

Anyway, this game should be a fun one, but as the spread below, courtesy of The Action Network, indicates, the Pels and their pace (which is third-highest in the league) could be tough. The Cavs’ bigs are very capable of keeping this one close, too, though, and the contrast of styles makes for a particularly intriguing matchup.

The Cavaliers are playing much better under the direction of Bickerstaff, who touched on in an interview with The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears that he and the Cavs “will negotiate a long-term deal” at some point.

If the Cavs keep up their winning ways and the youngsters keep showing growth, it definitely wouldn’t hurt his case for that, and obviously, this Cleveland team could use some stabililty.

It's early, but Cavs' players are buying into J.B. Bickerstaff as HC. dark. Next

At any rate, we’ll see if the Wine and Gold can notch their third straight victory on Friday in New Orleans.