The Cleveland Cavaliers can't catch a break.
Just when the entire rotation looked like it would be healthy, Evan Mobley has missed the last two games nursing a knee injury. That's on top of Caris LeVert continuing to be out with a knee injury of his own, and Ty Jerome not playing since the second game of the season with his ankle injury.
NBA teams deal with injuries; it's part of the game. The Denver Nuggets came to town missing Jamal Murray, who was out for 13 games for the defending champs. Playing without Mobley and LeVert, the Cavs won in Miami last Friday, who were playing without Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. The Phoenix Suns haven't had a single game with all three of their stars playing together.
Yet few teams have dealt with such a broad range on injuries as the Cavaliers. Max Strus and Geroges Niang are the only two rotation players not to miss multiple games this year, and Cleveland hasn't had everyone available in a single game. Do the Cavs have a better chance of winning in the playoffs with their offseason additions? Perhaps, but it may be impossible to tell if they can never get the full rotation available for the same game.
Mobley and LeVert are likely out once again tonight in Boston. Let's discuss that and more - it's Tuesday, which means it's time for Cavs News!
Too much Magic in Orlando
After a week with just two games as the In-Season Tournament went on, the Cavaliers resumed their originally scheduled slate of games last night in Orlando. The Cavs were without Mobley and LeVert, while the Magic played without two starters in Markelle Fultz and Wendell Carter Jr. The Cavs felt their absences more.
Orlando absolutely bullied the Cavs inside, racking up fouls on Jarrett Allen and limiting him to just four points in 15 minutes before he fouled out. Without Allen and Mobley the Cavs played Tristan Thompson 29 minutes and moved Georges Niang to center in certain lineups, a combination that did little to slow down the Magic inside. Orlando scored 56 points in the paint, compared to just 36 for the Cavs.
Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell struggled against the length of the Magic, scoring a combined 58 points but needing 54 shooting possessions to get there. Cleveland fell behind in the third quarter but made a furious rally in the fourth, only for consecutive fast-break dunks to blow it back open and seal the Orlando victory.
Cleveland is now 13-10, tied for seventh in the Eastern Conference.
A Deluded Trade
December 15th marks the unofficial start of NBA trade season. Players who signed new contracts this summer will be eligible for a trade (including Caris LeVert and other Cavs) and teams will begin making and taking phone calls in earnest. That makes it the perfect time to think of potential trades for the Cavaliers to upgrade their roster.
The problem is that it's very easy to pitch a sensational trade idea that isn't grounded in reality and practicality. It would be amazing if the Cavs could trade Jarrett Allen for Kevin Durant, but that deal isn't happening.
A popular NBA trade website recently pitched a trade involving the Cavaliers, and it didn't pass the smell test. Why would the Cavs trade for a broken former star? Read more about the deal and decide for yourself.
A Scheduled Loss
The Boston Celtics last played a game on Friday, a home victory over the New York Knicks. They have been off since, relaxing at home while the Cavs spent a few days in Orlando and played last night. They then boarded a plane and flew up to Boston for a showdown with the well-rested Celtics tonight.
It's very possible that the Cavs sit players tonight, and if not, it's likely the full-strength Celtics sweep the floor with them. It's the second scheduled loss of the season for the Cavaliers, who played the Philadelphia 76ers in overtime before flying back to take on the Miami Heat the very next night.
If the Cavs can pull out this win over the Celtics, props to them. Given the difficulty of the opponent, the rest advantage may be more than enough to swing the result. Cleveland can look ahead to a Thursday rematch to exact their revenge.
What to Read
- Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com reported Friday that former Cavaliers star Kevin Love is open to a return to Cleveland to finish his career. Read Fedor's excellent original story here and then dig into our analysis here, including whether either of his former co-stars will one day return to Cleveland.
- Caleb Crowley took his weekly look into the Cavaliers, asking and answering the question of who the team's X-Factors will be over the next few weeks.
- Roger Straz thinks that The Ringer was a little too low on all of the Cavaliers' starters; he explains why here.
- Could Jarrett Allen be traded this season? It's possible, and if so, here are four teams who could trade for the big man.
- Whether or not the Cavs trade Allen, they could use an upgrade to their big man depth. Here are a few trade proposals to accomplish that goal.
The Cavaliers are now in Boston to take on the Celtics in a "baseball series" tonight and Thursday, playing the Celtics at 7:30 PM ET each night. They then return home for a small homestand.