clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cleveland Cavaliers at Phoenix Suns: Game preview, start time and TV information

Once LeBron James makes it back from watching the Buckeyes win the National Title Game, he'll be a game-time decision for the Cavs against the Suns.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland has lost four straight and seven of their past eight overall, falling behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the 5th spot in the Eastern Conference Standings. David Blatt said something about Kevin Love being a max player on Sunday night and it was either the worst thing ever or not that big of a deal. The new pieces are being worked into the rotation, but a lack of quality perimeter defense has made things tough for the Cavaliers.

The good news: LeBron James is a game-time decision for tonight's game against the Suns, which would be a breath of fresh air for a team that's gone just 1-8 without him this season.

Who: Cleveland Cavaliers at Phoenix Suns

When: 9:00 PM EST

Where: US Airways Center - Phoenix, AZ

TV: Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Arizona

The Suns have been streaky of late, rebounding from a six game losing streak in the early part of December by winning 10 of 14 overall but have dropped back-to-back games coming into this one. Granted, they played San Antonio and Memphis pretty tough on the road, so they're not exactly scuffling.

Since the middle of December, Phoenix has the 7th-best Net Rating in the NBA. Only the Warriors, Clippers and Raptors have beaten their 109.3 offensive rating over that same stretch. Only the Houston Rockets take more threes than Phoenix, and only seven teams convert them at a higher rate. The three-headed guard monster of Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas are each averaging over 15 points apiece on better than 44% shooting during the Suns' resurgence, getting to the line a combined 13 times per game between them.

In part because Jeff Hornacek rolls out such small lineups, the Suns are a middle of the road defensive team, ranking 18th in the league in points allowed per-100 possessions and have been bad at protecting the rim (24th in the league in opponents' field goal percentage allowed in the restricted area). The recently acquired Brendan Wright ought to help some with that, but it'll be interesting to see how Phoenix's coaching staff chooses to work him in; during much of their run, they've been going very small, playing Thomas, Dragic and Bledsoe at the same time in their 4th and 5th-most used lineups since December 15th.

What does that mean for Cleveland's odds in this game? For one thing, Phoenix will have to choose whether to put Bledsoe on Kyrie (probably their best bet) while risking Dragic or Isaiah Thomas on J.R. Smith (a serious size disadvantage in both cases). If LeBron plays, the three guard lineups are probably out, meaning more of Marcus Morris and P.J. Tucker for the Suns, which isn't great for their offense.

It's probably going to be a shootout - both teams are ranked in the top ten in offense and the bottom ten in defense this season. Phoenix's funky personnel groupings make every game with them a bit of an adventure; if LeBron plays, the favor swings heavily the Cavaliers' way. Breaking news: your basketball team will be better if LeBron James is on it.

Fear the Sword Fearless Prediction:

Is LeBron going to play?


Suns 120, Cavs 109.

Is LeBron going to play?


Cavaliers 115, Suns 111.

I'm betting he plays, and I'm betting the Cavaliers snap this ugly little losing streak they're on.