The Cavaliers got a nice break and return to action after not playing since Saturday. The extra time off means that players probably got a chance for rest up and have fresher legs, something that is not to be underestimated in this frantic season. Furthermore, it was enough time to let Kyrie Irving recover from his concussion. I'd say I'm 90% confident that Kyrie will return to the court tonight when the Indiana Pacers come to town.
Song Of The Day: What Planet Is This? - The Seatbelts
This song rocks. The video is weird. Enjoy it. (I wonder if you guys actually listen to these songs that I choose...hmmm.)
Indiana Pacers (17-11) at Cleveland Cavaliers (10-16)
The Indiana Pacers just got rocked by the Miami Heat. Last night, Indiana lost to the Heat by a score of 105-90, but it took a 32-15 fourth quarter of garbage time for them to even get that close. It was a total beatdown. Now, that can go one of two ways for the Cavaliers. It could mean that they are just mentally and physically exhausted after that game and will come out flat against the Cavs tonight. Or it could mean that they want revenge and come out firing in order to redeem some dignity. It will be a testament to the coaching of Frank Vogel to see how the Pacers respond on the second night of a back-to-back.
Pacers forward Danny Granger started last night's game against the Heat, but suffered an ankle sprain and had to leave the game. He did not return. Granger is questionable for tonight's game in Cleveland. Granger is arguably Indiana's best player and most consistent scoring threat. If he is out, that's definitely a lucky break for the Cavaliers. Granger had 22 in the last meeting between these two teams.
Speaking of the last meeting between these two teams, I'm assuming that you all remember how that game went down. Kyrie did all of the hard work on the final possession, made a great move and got to the basket. His layup just rolled off of the rim and the game went to overtime, where the Pacers cruised to a 98-91 win. I don't know a ton about Irving as a person, but I know that if it were me, I'd take tonight as a chance to redeem myself and come out with a big game. If Kyrie has a chance for a game winner tonight, expect him to drain it.
Kyrie still needs to be cleared by team doctors to say that he's okay, but every indication is that he will be cleared and in the starting lineup. Byron Scott said that if the doctors deem him healthy, he'll start and get his normal minutes. As of late, that means roughly 30-33 minutes and all of the important ones down the stretch. I've mentioned it before, but this break could ultimately be good for Ky as he got some rest and may be able to avoid the "rookie wall" later this year.
The Pacers are one of the deepest teams in the league and there isn't a ton of drop off when they bring in their bench. Look for the battle of the benches to play a key role in tonight's game.
In the last meeting, the Pacers killed Cleveland on the boards, 60-49. They also had significantly more points in the paint, 52-44. Much of that had to do with Roy Hibbert. Hibbert alone grabbed 5 offensive rebounds, and the Pacers as a whole grabbed 17. When you give up that many offensive boards, you consistently give the other team a second chance to score. When that happens, you generally lose games. With Anderson Varejao still out with a broken wrist, it will be mostly up to Semih Erden to try to hold his own on the glass against all-star Roy Hibbert. If Erden struggles, don't be surprised if Scott opts to use Tristan Thompson at center for portions of the game.
Fear The Sword's Fearless Prediction
I'm cautiously optimistic. The Cavs are rested and the Pacers are coming off of a beatdown the night before. The Cavs are without Varejao and that could really hurt them in the paint, but the Pacers might night have Danny Granger. Kyrie Irving is back, but he hasn't played in a week. I guess I'll say that the Cavs pull it out at home by a score of 96-92, but I'm not confident about it.