If you were even remotely excited for the Cleveland Cavaliers' Christmas Day heavyweight bought against the Golden State Warriors, then tomorrow's game should excite you just as much when the Cavs take on the San Antonio Spurs.
Although the storylines aren't as dominant as they were in their matchup against the Warriors just a few weeks ago, this game brings plenty to the table. On one hand, you have the Cavs at full strength (something they didn't technically have against the Warriors) and in the midst of an eight-game winning streak. On the other hand, you have the Spurs with the best point differential in the league and riding a 33-game home winning streak -- that last loss coming against the Cavs 10 months ago.
If this game is any similar to the last one these two teams played, we're all in for one exciting game.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers at San Antonio Spurs
When: 8:00 p.m.
How to watch: TNT
Enemy Blog: Pounding The Rock
Music: Migos -- Fight Night
Things to watch:
- Last time these two teams played, you ask? Well, Kyrie Irving went berserk, scoring a franchise-record 57 points, including a game-tying three-pointer over eventual Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard. Saying he was hot is putting it EXTREMELY light. Irving was a volcano that game, spitting out molten lava with every shot he took. Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich tried everything that game to slow him down, using everyone from Tony Parker to Danny Green to Leonard. Expect to see Popovich mix-and-match his defenders again if Irving can come anywhere close to replicating his last performance in The Alamo.
- Speaking of Irving, he's starting to get back into his All-Star form of a year ago. His ball-handling is equally as deadly, his finishing around the rim is equally as flashy and his midrange game is equally as deadly as it once was. The thing missing from his game so far? His three-point shooting. He's hit a lowly 26.1 percent of threes this year and it's tough to tell how quickly that will come back to him. Off course, he's hit two very big three-pointers when it mattered this year (one against Phoenix and another against Dallas), but it's his consistency that isn't quite back yet. Could he regain that back against the team he went 7-for-7 from behind the arc the last time he played them?
- A gigantic part of the Spurs success this season revolves around their defense. As of now, they rank first in the league in: points allowed per game (by 5.5), defensive rating (by 4.6), opponent effective field goal percentage and opponent offensive rebounding percentage. They're lead on the inside by the ageless wonder that is Tim Duncan and the perimeter by Leonard. For as good as the Spurs have looked this year on the defense, they have yet to play any of the top-five teams in offensive rating this season (Spurs rank third in offensive rating). The first chance they have to face one of those teams? Tomorrow night against the Cavs.
- The game of basketball has always been focused on match-ups, and there are few match-ups as enticing as LeBron James against Leonard. Leonard is one of the few players in the league that can slow him down while guarding while also being able to go blow-for-blow on offense to match his defensive efforts. And with Leonard only getting better on offensive end, this could be a classic case of two great players going back-and-forth to carry their teams, even if that is against the Spurs style of play.
Fear the Sword's fearless prediction:
99-95 Spurs. As well as the Cavs have played since a blowout loss against the Portland Trail Blazers, and even with Irving progressing at his current rate, the Spurs are still the Spurs, finding any sort of way to win.