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Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers host Phoenix Suns

The Suns were supposed to be in the mix for a top lottery pick this summer. They keep winning, though.


This is the story about a team that lost an MVP to an in-conference rival. That struggled before piecing together a few fun pieces, including an electrifying point guard. That added a center who missed all of last season, but came to camp focused and ready to play. That has played above and beyond all expectations, and has a decent shot of making the playoffs.

The story of the Phoenix Suns is in some ways what Cavaliers fans wanted for their own team this season. It hasn't quite worked out that way, yet.

Who: Phoenix Suns (24-18) at Cleveland Cavaliers (16-27)

When: 6:00 ET

Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio

Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass


Get it? Because now that we have heard that Kyrie Irving isn't perfect we don't have our innocence anymore.

What to watch from the Cavs

This is a game that I really wish I was covering live. My guess is that Kyrie Irving will be aware of Jason Lloyd's article. It shouldn't affect the way he plays the game, but it would be interesting to see the mood before and after the game in the locker room, depending on how the game goes.

Irving doesn't show a lot of emotion, which I think is part of why some people don't always think he is totally into games. I wouldn't expect that to change tonight, but hopefully he doesn't force things. Coming off a game in which he had 10 points and 10 assists and never turned the ball over against the Milwaukee Bucks. Did you know that Kyrie Irving's turnover percentage is lower than Chris Paul's this season? Irving has been playing some transcendent offensive basketball over the last 20 games. Hopefully he can keep it up.

If the Cavs want to win this game, they will need the good Dion Waiters to show up. We haven't seen him in awhile. He played well in the 2nd quarter Friday night, and well in the 4th quarter on Wednesday night, but more consistency is needed. Over his last 15 games, Waiters is shooting 35% from the field, 31% from distance, and 70% from the free throw line. There isn't really any way to spin that. Waiters can and needs to play better.

Random things to keep an eye out for: Can Tyler Zeller keep it up? He had an amazing game against the Bucks and his rebounding and shooting percentages are way up over last season. He hasn't played a ton of minutes this year, but the results are encouraging. Which Tristan Thompson will we get? He is in the top 10 in the league in double-doubles, but has a lot of games where he is awful.

What to watch for from the Suns

I will be very honest and say that I think I have only seen this team play once this season. They are missing Eric Bledsoe, who you would think would give Kyrie Irving fits, perhaps on both ends of the court. Still, Goran Dragic is perhaps one of the most underrated players in the league, and is devastating with stretch center Channing Frye running the pick and pop. Frye, who missed all of last season, is shooting 42% from three point range, and the Suns are significantly better with him on the court than off.

The Suns have been a solid team by being relatively effective on both offense and defense. Their offensive rating, measuring points per 100 possessions, is 9th in the NBA, while their defensive rating is 13th. You really don't want to sell Dragic short. His true shooting percentage of 59% is remarkable. He doesn't defend that well, so it will be interesting to see if the Suns put Gerald Green on Irving at various points.

Fearless prediction: Dion Waiters breaks out of his slump and scores 20, while Kyrie Irving outplays Dragic. Cavs win 108-104.