Life isn't perfect for the Cleveland Cavaliers at the moment. Two losses in a row has the Cavs reeling ever so slightly and the team is a bit confusing at the moment.
Tonight, however, offers the Cavs a chance to rebound in the midst of a road trip against the Suns, a team dealing with locker issues, a good coach on a hot seat and an injury to their best player.
Who: Cleveland Cavalieres vs. Phoenix Suns
When: 9 p.m.
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena - Phoenix, Arizona
Enemy Blog: Bright Side of the Sun
Music: Wanna be Cool - Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment
Keys to the Game
- Phoenix is really in a tough spot at the moment. Without Eric Bledsoe - who is probably out until after the All-Star break with a meniscus tear - Phoenix is without its best player. Additionally, Markieff Morris is unhappy, just got suspended for two games after throwing a towel at coach Jeff Hornacek and nothing is really completely coming together for Phoenix.
- Some of this is probably fixable. Even without Bledsoe, there's the making of a simple, yet, effective offense centered around Brandon Knight/Tyson Chandler pick and rolls and shooting. It's not pretty and it'd be better if Morris was playing like himself, but it can work.
- For that to work, though, young players like Devin Booker, TJ Warren and Archie Goodwin have to step up and fill holes in the rotation. Booker and Warren in particular have shown signs of being solid role players on offense, but they looked lost on defense. That puts a lot of pressure on Chandler and Alex Len to protect the rim. It's even harder without Bledsoe, an aggressive, high energy defender. The data - especially on/off numbers - don't totally reflect Bledsoe's defensive impact, but there is one.
- For the Cavs, the desired outcome of this game is pretty obvious. They've lose two straight - one on Christmas Day against the Warriors, one a day later in Portland that was the ugliest Cavs game of the season - and a win tonight before playing another back-to-back against Denver would be ideal.
- This game, with Bledsoe out, could be a game for Kyrie Irving to get his legs under him a bit. In four games since returning, Irving really hasn't looked like himself. This was probably to be expected, and Irving's numbers reflect this. But tonight, against Knight and Phoenix's young guards, maybe Irving can settle into a groove before sitting out Tuesday in Denver.
- Additionally, the Cavs got a little bit of rest headed into this game and could use a win here. Even if its an ugly win, a win headed into another back-to-back game and in the middle of a road trip is something the Cavs could really use just so the world doesn't feel like its falling. Plus, Phoenix in its current state is a team the Cavs really should win.
- Recommending reading: Zach Lowe on the Suns, HP's Derek James on Marieff Morris, HP's Kevin Yeung on Jeff Hornacek, SB Nation's Yaron Weitzman on how the Suns become a dysfunctional mess
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction
The Cavs should win here and win big provided they come out with the right energy and shoot better than they have in the past few games. Cavs 101, Suns 92.