The third-best team in the West travels to Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers, who may again be without the services of Kyrie Irving, who is a game-time decision according to Byron Scott.
When? 7:30 P.M. Eastern
Where? Quicken Loans Arena -- Cleveland, OH
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio / NBA League Pass
Enemy/Brother Blog? Clips Nation
Lob City (ORIGINAL VIDEO) - Tyga ft. Blake Griffin, Chris Paul & DeAndre Jordan (via LobCityClipps)
Why Should You Watch? If Irving plays, he vs. Chris Paul is probably the most electrifying point guard matchup in the NBA right now. Watching the best point guard of the present take on who will probably be the best point guard in the future is an excellent treat for all Cavs' fans. Outside of that, Blake Griffin will probably Mozgov Tyler Zeller at least once. To top it all off, the Clippers will probably be looking for revenge on an early season loss in Los Angeles, one of only six home losses they have accumulated this season.
The Cavs' Re-Made Bench vs. A Tribe Called Bench: Since these two teams last played, the Cavaliers have improved their bench by leaps and bounds due to the Jon Leuer trade. Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington have helped to give the Cavs' bench a scoring punch that was sorely lacking early in the season. Also, Shaun Livingston wasn't yet a Cavalier when these two teams played in November. He has helped to stabilize what was a rickety unit prior to his arrival. Tonight, they will be in for a battle. The Clippers' bench is among the best in the NBA, led by Eric Bledsoe and Jamal Crawford. Crawford has cooled off a little bit from his early season pace, but is still among the leaders in the clubhouse for the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
Any Former Cavaliers To Care About? Sure! Ryan Hollins was responsible for breaking Zeller's face during their first encounter. Since then, he's been pretty much the same Hollins as always. He's improved his rebounding slightly, but is still in there basically to provide a big interior presence and six fouls.
Key Matchup: Can Tristan Thompson at least slightly match up with Blake Griffin's athleticism? If he's able to do that and keep Griffin off of the offensive glass, the Cavaliers should be able to keep this close. If Griffin goes crazy, the Cavaliers have no chance.
Other Notes: -DeAndre Jordan has slowed down from his torrid early season pace, when Shaquille O'Neal called him the best center in the Western Conference. He's now averaging a much more pedestrian 9 points and 8 rebounds.
-C.J. Miles has been running hot lately. He averaged about 11 points-per-game in February while shooting over 40% from behind the three-point arc. If he can produce a similar point total to Crawford, the Cavs' would be extremely pleased.
-Similarly, Dion Waiters has gone for at least 23 in his past three games. If Irving is able to give it a go, I think his matchup against Chauncey Billups will be a fun one. Can the young, strong rookie out-play the wily veteran known for playing physical defense?
-Finally, let's all remember that Vinny Del Negro coaches the Clippers. Even though he's been better this season, there's a good chance he'll do something to keep this game close all the way throughout.
Fear The Sword's Fearless Prediction: If Kyrie plays, the Cavs will have a good chance to win this game. They've been playing really well recently regardless of their opponent. I'll actually go as far as to say that if he plays, Kyrie outperforms Paul, leading the Cavaliers to a 99-95 win.
If Kyrie doesn't play, the Clippers win 107-93, as Paul forces turnovers against the Cavaliers, leading to a bunch of fast breaks and free points. In that case, well, at least Cleveland will be Lob City for one night.