The Cavs will have part two of a Central Division back-to-back tonight against the Indiana Pacers. With a 106-100 win against the Milwaukee Bucks last night, the Cavs now turn their attention to the Pacers, who are coming off of a 106-98 preseason loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday. LeBron James will be back for the Cavs after sitting out last night's game, while Kyrie Irving will continue to sit while recovering from an ankle injury.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers
When: 7:00 p.m. Eastern
Where: Cintas Center - Cincinnati, Ohio
How Can I Watch: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA TV
Music: Love - Smashing Pumpkins
It's what you wanted to see, they're who we want them to be,
For what you needed to need, he'll make it up
Kevin Love, he's who you know
Love was a demon last night. Playing without LeBron, Kyrie, and Tristan Thompson, the Cavs were still able to hold off the Bucks for most of the game, as Love had 25 points in 21 minutes to pace Cleveland in scoring. He was 5-7 from three-point land, and the Cavs were +22 with him on the floor. This was against the Bucks, of course, but Love looked utterly dominant, and carried a Cavs lineup missing three starters for the entire first half. His night was perfectly summarized by this Dirk-fadeaway out of a double-team:
He'll have a tougher task tonight, as he goes up against David West, but Cavs fans have to be excited that Love can still carry the team for long stretches, especially with Kyrie nursing injury. As Billy Corgan already told you above, Love solves everything.
The Threat Up Top? An interesting read here from Indy Cornrows that the Pacers are looking to shift to using their point guards to score, and their preseason results have shown that strategy thus far. C.J. Watson led the Pacers in scoring in Sunday's contest vs. Dallas with 16 points, and Donald Sloan (Yes, he's still in the league somehow!) chipped in 12. If George Hill or Rodney Stuckey get to play, the Pacers will have even more scoring punch at the point, and that's going to make Matthew Dellavedova's defense a focal point of this game. Indy's offense isn't good, and if Delly can play consistent D up top, that gives the Cavs a big advantage. The Pacers are also relying on spot-up shooting a lot more than they have, and that's going to make help defense, which looked shaky against Milwaukee, equally important.
Injury Notes! YAY. We already know Kyrie Irving is out, but it will be important to monitor the status of Love and Anderson Varejao ahead of tonight's game. Both bigs banged knees with Bucks players during the third and fourth quarters of last night's game, respectively. Love played through his; Varejao, who has had issues with this before, went to the bench immediately. No further evaluations were performed during the game, which is promising, but the Cavs might elect to throw Thompson back into the lineup and sit one or both guys, especially given Indiana's rough-and-tumble post presence. Blatt said after the game he expected both to play; however, we will keep an ear out for news as the day progresses.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction: Indiana's offense has looked pretty hapless this preseason, even with the change in philosophy. With LeBron back and Dion Waiters scoring well, I think the Cavs pretty easily overcome whatever the Pacers can dish out in a lower-scoring contest. Cavs 96, Pacers 89.