Back on Christmas Day, LeBron James had to make the awkward first trip back to Miami to face his former team. Tonight, it's Kevin Love's turn, as the red-hot Cavs take their nine game winning streak to the power forward's old stomping grounds in the Twin Cities.
The Cavaliers have already beaten the Timberwolves once this season, a 125-104 drubbing back on December 23rd at the Q. Of course, that game already feels like it was played ages ago; Cleveland's a whole new team thanks to a rejuvenated LeBron, a locked in Kyrie Irving, David Blatt beginning to find his rhythm and the new acquisitions (Smith, Shumpert and Mozgov) integrating nicely.
On the flip side, the Wolves own the worst record in the NBA (8-38) and have lost 15 of 18 games dating back to the last time these two teams met. Just about the only silver lining from Minnesota: Andrew Wiggins has gone from "not even the next James Posey" to "maybe a decent prospect" over the past two months. So, there's that. It probably won't mean much tonight, though.
What: Cleveland Cavaliers at Minnesota Timberwolves
When: 8:00 PM EST, 7:00 CST
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports North
Music: Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart
Since January 15th, when Cleveland's nine game winning streak began, Kyrie Irving is averaging 28 points, 5 assists and 2 steals per game on 54/55/85 shooting splits, which is otherworldly. LeBron's doing his usual superhuman 29-7-7 thing. Timofey Mozgov has really shored up the Cavs' D (seriously, look at his on/off court numbers). J.R. Smith got very comfortable in a hurry, Shawn Marion has looked a bit better now that he's playing a more manageable amount of minutes, Iman Shumpert is getting integrated slowly but has shown flashes, and even Matthew Dellavedova has looked semi-passable as the team's backup point guard.
Everyone has been really, really good during the winning streak... except for Kevin Love. During the Cavs' hot stretch he's shooting 38% from the floor, 30% from three and is averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds per game. He's looked downright slow and sulky at times and his back is clearly still giving him some issues.
The prudent thing would probably be to sit him against the worst team in the NBA on the second night of a back-to-back, but since this is such a highly anticipated game (yay contrived revenge grudge match!) and he'd get criticized for bailing on it, even if the reasons were legitimate, it's hard to imagine he won't give it a go. He'll certainly get booed - he said himself he expects it to happen - but it probably won't be too vicious and once it's out of the fans' system, it'll be over and done with.
As for how the game will go? The Wolves are terrible at defending point guards anyway, and Zach LaVine was injured last night in Philadelphia. That leaves Mo Williams (old) and Lorenzo Brown (was in the D-League a week ago) as the guys who will be checking Kyrie Irving. So...
FEAR THE SWORD FEARLESS PREDICTION:
Cavs 134, Wolves 95. This will be over fast.
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