If you want a game with actual meaning for the Cavaliers, check out the Lakers-Clippers game at 3:30. But if you like seeing young, developing prospects, this should be a pretty fun game.
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (22-51) vs. Orlando Magic (19-58)
When? 6:00 PM Eastern
Where? Quicken Loans Arena -- Cleveland, OH
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio / NBA League Pass
Tickets? Cleveland Cavaliers tickets
After a rough stretch that saw 10 straight losses, Cleveland is coming off a win over the Celtics that was both meaningless and important. In the grand scheme of things, it may hurt the Cavaliers shot at getting Nerlens Noel. But in the here and now, the Cavs needed to get that win. It lowers the pressure on Byron Scott, and it allows the young players to just worry about getting better, not be focused on saving their coach's job. Tristan Thompson was particularly vocal in support of Coach Scott, and he backed up with the biggest game of this career. If a little adversity is what it takes for guys like Thompson to turn into leaders, the struggles this year may end up having a purpose beyond ping pong balls. As much as I love Kyrie Irving, it seems like he can be a bit prickly at times. Even if his quote about whether players had quit on Scott wasn't nearly as bad as it was originally reported, it was passive aggressive and ultimately less than productive. As Thompson improves into a solid NBA player, I think he can be a really positive presence in the Cleveland locker room. It will be interesting to see if the Cavaliers can build on the win over a depleted Celtics team. Irving has had better games, and I expect him to bounce back tonight.
Orlando comes in with a terrible record, but some cause for optimism. Magic fans LOVE Maurice Harkless. Love probably isn't a strong enough word. When I floated the idea of a straight 4th pick in the 2013 Draft for Harkless on twitter yesterday, it was less than popular with Magic fans. In fact, not a single one said they would take the 4th pick. Some even suggested that they wouldn't trade Harkless for the number 1 pick in the draft. Harkless, as Conrad put it, is a nice player. I would consider doing the trade because he is only 19 years old, has great size and a good motor. He looks like he is going to be an outstanding defender. He can't shoot, yet, but it seems like something he can develop. Giving up such a high pick though, even if you think the draft is weak, seems pretty silly. There is reason to believe that either Otto Porter or Victor Oladipo will end up being better players than Harkless. Anyways, it is an interesting thought experiment, and it provides a window into how much certain people value high draft picks this year: not much.
Outside of Harkless, Andrew Nicholson has been a solid rookie for Orlando, and Kyle O'Quinn gets minutes as well. I don't know if O'Quinn is really going to be an NBA player, but Nicholson looks like a solid rotational big. A couple Fear the Sword writers and commenters were high on Nicholson before the draft last summer. Jameer Nelson may be out, which would mean more Beno Udrih who has actually been pretty good for the Magic lately. 2nd year big man Nikola Vucevic looks like he might be a long-term NBA starter for the Magic as well. It will be interesting to see how Tyler Zeller's development helps him when they match up. Early in the year, Vucevic had his way with Zeller, but there has been substantial improvement in the more recent games Orlando and Cleveland have played.
This really should be a Cavs win. Kyrie Irving should bounce back, and the Magic, right now, are really bad. I will guess the Cavs win 111-102.