The NBA schedule makers can sometimes be jerks. I understand it's unavoidable to put certain match-ups clumped together, but it's rather unfair to make certain teams play certain opponents at certain times of the season on a back-to-back. For example, take the Cleveland Cavaliers. They are still somewhat rusty and banged up, and just played a grinding, tight game with the Bulls in Chicago last night. And now, they have to go play a back-to-back. But not just any back-to-back. They have to go play the Memphis Grizzlies. In Memphis. Why you gotta do us like that, NBA?
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers at Memphis Grizzlies
Where: FedEx Forum - Memphis, Tennessee
When: 8 p.m. ET
Is it on Television?: Yes, with our good friends at Fox Sports Ohio
Enemy Blog: Grizzly Bear Blues
Facing a fresh Memphis team at home after facing the Bulls may be cruel, but this isn't the worst matchup for the Cavs. Cleveland does have the size to contend with Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Brandan Wright, after all, and for all the positives of Memphis's defense, their offense still always comes with significant questions. And of course there's LeBron's career numbers against Jeff Green (Regular season shooting splits: 55/42/71 for 28.7 PPG), which always swings things in LeBron's favor. But still, this is going to be a very tough matchup.
Things to Watch For:
- Kevin Love, in theory, should kill the Grizzlies. He's always given them issues in the past, because his unique blend of shooting and passing skill from the power forward position gives Z-Bo fits. This should be especially true tonight, because I'd expect the Grizzlies to try some minutes with Jeff Green on Love, as it's a better matchup, but that would open things up for LeBron because it would mean he's guarded by either Tony Allen or Z-Bo. Love got a lot more looks than we were accustomed to seeing him get for most of last season in last night's game, and giving him the same amount of chances seems like a good idea in this matchup.
- How does Blatt manage minutes in a back-to-back? LeBron only got 36 minutes in last night's game, which was good, but I'd still expect him to play a little bit less tonight. Without Kyrie Irving, who got a bit of an increased load in back-to-backs last season when LeBron was resting, do the Cavs go even more to Love than we saw last night? Do they let J.R. try to do more? Or does LeBron get more load on the back end instead of in the first half of the two-game stanza? And what are minutes for Mozgov and Varejao like, given their injuries?
- Matt Barnes vs. J.R. Smith and Matthew Dellavedova tonight. Just felt important to mention, and that's all I'll do here.
- Tristan Thompson looked a bit sluggish last night, especially on the defensive end. It appeared that the holdout did affect him, and that he's not fully in game shape. Then again, he actually played pretty well down the stretch against the Bulls, and still gathered 12 rebounds for the game. I'm interested to see if it was only three quarters of rust against Chicago, or if it's indicative that TT's conditioning may actually be an issue. Regardless, rebounding is always a big challenge against the Grizzlies, and Thompson really needs to have a good game tonight.
- Sasha Kaun? He didn't play last night, but given Memphis's army of bruising bigs, it would seem like a good game for him to get some run, right?