Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
The San Antonio Spurs travel to Cleveland tonight to face off against the Cavaliers. Can the Cavaliers go into the All-Star break with some momentum?
The Cavaliers face off against the best team in the NBA tonight. To add to their misery, it is expected that the Spurs will have Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili back in the lineup after they all missed Monday's game against the Bulls. Not good.
When? 7:00 P.M. Eastern
Where? Quicken Loans Arena -- Cleveland, OH
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio / NBA League Pass
Tickets? Cleveland Cavaliers' Tickets
Tony Parker - Premier Love (via SASpursChamps)
Why Should You Watch? Well, Kyrie Irving is going to be playing. We'll get to see the continued development of Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. And on top of that, we get to see the league's most finely tuned and efficient offense in the form of a fully-staffed Spurs roster. Okay, so that might not be a good thing for the Cavaliers' win percentage. But hey, it'll look really pretty against the Cavs' 28th ranked defensive efficiency!
Some Highlights Among the Spurs' lesser players? Before realizing that the Spurs' big triumvirate was going to be in the lineup, I was really excited to see Kawhi Leonard as more than simply a complimentary piece. He scored a career high 26 points on Monday against the Bulls, basically getting into the paint when he wanted to. Also, as a Pitt basketball fan, I'm pretty interested in seeing the Spurs show off DeJuan Blair in the hopes that he can get dealt to a place where he can get more playing time. Finally, Tiago Splitter is a free agent this offseason, and I've seen predictions that he could get upwards of $9 million per season. That seems excessive to me, so I'm pretty curious if people are totally out to lunch here.
Any Former Cavaliers to Care About? Why, yes. The Spurs have former Cavalier great Danny Green!
Okay, so Green only played 20 games for the Cavaliers back in 2009-10. But he's developed into a solid 3 and D guy who has been great over the past 5 games, scoring 18 points-per-game while shooting nearly 60% from beyond the three-point arc. Last week against Minnesota, he made eight threes en route to 28 points. Getting a hand in his face will be essential to the Cavs winning tonight, which leads into the key matchup.
Key Matchup? The Cavaliers' defense against spot-up shooters vs. the Spurs' three-pointer-heavy offense. According to Synergy, the Cavaliers are 25th in the NBA in defending spot-up shooters, allowing 1.01 points-per-possession. This is a particularly bad matchup as the Spurs are 4th in the NBA there, as they average 1.05 points-per-possession. It's a drive-and-kick heavy offense, so stopping Parker from getting into the lane at will is the big key here.
Anything else? -Nando De Colo is one of my favorite names in the NBA.
-Gregg Popovich is a basketball wizard who I'm fairly certain made a deal with the devil to become more knowledgeable about basketball than any human being who has ever lived.
-Waiters is shooting 53% over his past five games and it looks like his percentage at the rim is finally regressing to a normal rate, as he's shooting 69% at the rim so far in February. Definitely a good sign.
-Wayne Ellington has also been awesome since being acquired. There's a good chance that he's the guy the Nets inquired about when rumors arose this week about the two teams talking, since they already asked the Bobcats about Ben Gordon. He's shot 47% from three for the Cavaliers during his short time here.
-Lastly, it looks the Cavs don't even have intentions to showcase Omri Casspi before the deadline, as he's only played seven minutes in the past eight games. That's pretty comical to me.
Fear The Sword's Fearless Prediction: It's a depressing one. With Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili in the lineup, the Spurs win this one going away. Spurs win 108-88, which makes me sad. But then I remember that I get to watch Kyrie Irving score 50 in the Rookie-Sophomore game on Friday, and it makes me happy.