After ...... whatever happened Tuesday in a loss to the Washington Wizards, the Cleveland Cavaliers are back in action this weekend with what should be a very interesting double-header. They match up with the Miami Heat on Saturday, which is always going to be a marquee matchup for the Cavs, but first they have to go to New Orleans tonight to square off with the 4-15 New Orleans Pelicans. They may be struggling to start the season, but Anthony Davis and his merry band of injury-prone athletic guards could present a very difficult matchup for the Cavs if they aren't prepared.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers at New Orleans Pelicans
When: 9:30 PM ET
Where: Smoothie King Center - New Orleans, Louisiana
TV Listings: ESPN, following an unwatchable Nets/Knicks game
Enemy Blog: The Bird Writes
Music: The Gaslight Anthem - "House of the Rising Sun"
Yeah, it's not the original, but the Pelicans aren't the original New Orleans team, either. JAZZ AND HORNETS FOREVER.
Things to Watch For
- Anthony Davis. This isn't exactly deep analysis, but Davis is quite good, and you should pay attention to him, because he will be the reason if the Pelicans beat the Cavs. He's averaging 24/11 and three blocks right now and just tossed up a nine-block effort in the Pelicans' Tuesday loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Anthony Davis's team is not good right now, but he is insane.
- How will the Cavs stop Davis? Well, it's a pretty good thing the Cavs have a Tristan Thompson, eh? If anyone's built to deal with Davis's combination of offensive versatility and freakish athleticism, it's TT. Thompson has struggled at defending isolations this year, but he's still posting solid rim protection numbers, allowing 47.4 percent at the basket, and his combination of athleticism and brute strength is something that Davis still has occasional struggles with rolling to the rim. Thompson also has a clear advantage rebounding as well, and he's durable enough to deal with the load guarding Davis in New Orleans's offense entails. If Davis is inefficient tonight, I assume Thompson will be the reason.
- Look for the Cavs to try to get a bunch of threes tonight. The Pelicans have the worst defense in the NBA, and they're particularly bad at allowing threes, somehow giving up 39.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc this year. Only two teams have given up worse for a season: The 2010-2011 Cavs and the 2008-2009 Sacramento Kings. Tonight's a good candidate for a James Jones game, or at least for Kevin Love, Matthew Dellavedova, and Richard Jefferson to get a whole lot of spot-up opportunities.
- A big reason for the Pelicans' early struggles has been guard depth, and that's an area I'm interested to watch tonight. Tyreke Evans and Norris Cole both made their season debuts in the Memphis game, and if the Pelicans have Evans, Cole, and Jrue Holiday instead of celebrated brick-layer Ish Smith at point guard, they suddenly become a much more complex matchup. The Cavs haven't had great success against penetrating pick-and-roll guards this season, as evidenced by John Wall's 35-point, 11-assist effort Tuesday. Reke and Holiday are both good at this same style of play, and it'll be interesting to see how the Cavs try to contain these two bigger athletes off the dribble.
- Do not watch the center matchup. Omer Asik and Timofey Mozgov both have had their skills sapped by the monstars and this is going to be sad. Though if there was ever a game for Timo to get his mojo back, dunking all over the only starting center who looks worse than him right now would be it.
- ALONZO GEE BACK! LeBron's going to end him. It's going to be great.
- Finally, Kyrie Irving returned to full practice yesterday. While it doesn't mean he's going to be playing any time soon (He's probably coming back next week, I'd imagine), but I'm not ruling a McMenamin/Haynes/Lloyd/Windhorst bomb around 3PM tomorrow that says Kyrie's suiting up. He probably wouldn't move the needle too much in a Pelicans matchup, just because they're so bad defensively and he doesn't match up well with their guards, but still, any game from here on out has "MAYBE KYRIE'S BACK" attached to it.