The DEFEND Cleveland Show

Cavaliers Weekend Preview

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Cleveland Cavaliers at the Charlotte Bobcats(0-1)

The Cavaliers play their first away game of the season against the Bobcats on Friday night.  With Jason Lloyd reporting that center Al Jefferson, Charlotte’s big offseason signing, seems doubtful to play, and even if he does he won’t be at 100%, the Cavaliers should be looking to start the season 2-0 for the first time since the 2006 season.  Jefferson was acquired as a free agent from Utah, garnering a three year, $41 million contract.  The acquisition drew mixed reviews around the league.  Jefferson is one of the best low post centers in the league offensively, often commanding double teams, but he can also be a black hole on offense at times.  More importantly it is possible that for all his skill in the post, his defense, or lack thereof, completely offsets whatever advantage he gives you on the offensive end.

Still, the Bobcats under the seemingly incompetent management of Michael Jordan needed to make some sort of move to get better.  Floundering in the lottery year after year has not done them very much good as they’ve seen recent high picks like Adam Morrison, Raymond Felton, Sean May, and D.J. Augstin be severely underwhelming at the NBA level and it is tough to say if they have a future all-star amongst their current crop of young players: Otto von Bismack Byombo, Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Cody Zeller.  It is somewhat unfortunate if we don’t get to see Jefferson in this game just because I would have been interested in watching Tristan defend him in the post, but it should definitely improve the Cavs’ chances of winning.

The Bobcats lack shooting or any form of efficient scoring on the offensive end.  Kidd-Gilchrist still can’t hit a shot from more than three feet out, Kemba Walker1 shows flashes with his quickness, but is largely unable to score big numbers without a high volume of shots, Gerald Henderson seems but a role-player((though a decent one)), and Cody Zeller will be playing only his 2nd NBA game.  They only managed 83 points with Al Jefferson against the Houston Rockets and I expect them to be offensively anemic against the Cavaliers as well.  The one area they could possibly kill the Cavs with is their athleticism and getting easy points off turnovers.  The Rockets committed 18 turnovers against the Bobcats and Charlotte was able to rack up 15 fast break points, which may not seem like a ton, but when you only score 83 point you’re looking at almost 20% of their total offense coming on the break.  Despite Kyrie managing to only commit two turnovers against the Nets, turnovers have always been the major flaw in Kyrie’s offense and it remains to be seen how improved he is in this area.  If the Cavs are careful with the basketball and pick their spots on the break well, I imagine the Bobcats will have trouble keeping up with the Cavs on the scoreboard since their half-court offense is congested and depends on a lot of isolation.

Mike Brown has once again been mum on whether or not Bynum will be available for this game.  He would give the Cavs a huge advantage while he is out on the court if so.  Granted this is generally the case against any team, but the Bobcats lack anything resembling a proven post defender and Bynum could feast off the lack of size and strength in their front court.  I doubt we’ll see Bynum in any back-to-backs throughout the season, though I have been wrong approximately one hundred times about Bynum’s health status, and so Brown might have to weigh the benefit of having Bynum against the beatable Bobcats or the following evening against the more formidable Pacers.  I’d personally play Bynum against the Bobcats to hopefully ensure a win, while recognizing that playing the Pacers away on the second night of a back-to-back is an almost certain NBA schedule loss.  Especially since the Pacers will have been off since Wednesday and be quite fresh.

Cleveland is favored by three points in this match up. Despite this being the Bobcats home opener and the Cavaliers’ worst preseason game coming against the Bobcats who always seem to play Cleveland well, I expect the Cavaliers to cover.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers at the Indiana Pacers(2-0)

The Cavaliers depth is really going to have to come into play if they stand much of a chance against this Pacers team on the road.  If the Cavaliers can limit everyone’s minutes against Charlotte like they were able to do against Brooklyn it could go a long way in keeping them fresher for these back-to-backs.  The other area the Cavs depth comes into play is that they should be able to outscore the Pacer’s second unit.  The Pacers’ weak bench and their propensity to turn the ball over last season was probably their ultimate downfall against Miami, and though they made steps to improve their bench, it is still none too impressive.  Danny Granger still isn’t healthy, which leaves Luis Scola as the main improvement to their depth.  Scola is 33 years old though and has seen his per minute production fall off slightly in the past few years.

Even if the Cavs’ bench outplays the Pacers’ own bench it is still not the only ingredient needed for a win.  Indiana’s starters play heavy minutes and were the best 5 man unit in the league last year, which translated to a high level of playoff success.  The Cavaliers, (possibly) without Bynum, will struggle to defend teams that possess size down low, which was on display with Brook Lopez, and though Hibbert isn’t the same force as Lopez offensively I expect him to cause a lot of problems for the still blossoming Cavalier defense.  Whoever draws the assignment of Hibbert will surely be receiving a lot of help in the form of a double team.  Hibbert can be clumsy with the ball at times and quick doubles can force him into turning the ball over.

Unless the Cavaliers manage to shoot extremely well they will have trouble scoring in the half court against this Pacers team whose team defense is one of the best in the league.  The Cavaliers need to push the tempo and look for points on the break.  As good as the Pacers can be defensively they have multiple players who are turnover prone and the Cavs should look to get capitalize on this flaw for some easy offense since points won’t come easy in the half court against their Spartan-esque drilled defense.

There isn’t a Vegas betting line for this one yet, but I expect the Cavaliers to suffer their first loss of the season at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Saturday night.

 

-Joe Mastrantoni

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  1. Walker actually resembles his current back up, former Cavalier, Ramon Sessions in a lot of ways []

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Posted by on Nov 1 2013. Filed under Featured, Hands Down, Man's Down. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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