The Tyronn Lue era did not get off to the smoothest start Saturday night, but the Cleveland Cavaliers face an easy opportunity to bounce back as they host Andrew Wiggins and the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves Monday night.
Who? Minnesota Timberwolves (14-31) at Cleveland Cavaliers (30-12)
When? 7 p.m.
Where? Quicken Loans Arena
Where on my eyeballs? NBA TV
Enemy Blog: Canis Hoopus
The main point of conversation surrounding the team's play after the Chicago loss has been the pace of play. How the Cavs players will need to get accustomed to getting out and running more, rather than walking the ball up and playing in the halfcourt. It's an adjustment that should suit the roster well, given the personnel. Nobody is expecting the team to turn into the seven seconds or less Phoenix Suns, and they shouldn't. Playing run and gun would doom them against the Warriors.
But by not allowing defenses to set up as frequently they should help an underachieving offense get more easy baskets. While they push the pace, especially after stops, it's important that they try not to concede transition points the other way and aren't slow to get back. If the defense isn't set it will be easier for teams to isolate weaker defenders on the Cavs and expose them without the threat of help defense. This will be the balancing act for the rest of the season.
Monday's game against the Timberwolves is a great opportunity to try and push the pace and experiment offensively. The Wolves roster has a tremendous amount of trouble on the defensive side of the floor. This is in-spite of good individual defenders like Ricky Rubio and the surprisingly good Karl-Anthony Towns. If the Cavs struggle to get back as they experiment with this new pace, the Wolves aren't a team that can push them with transition three-point attempts or efficient offense. So with room to play with we likely will see the Cavs stick to the new game plan longer than they were able to against the Bulls, where the result became in question early on.
The other thing I'll be keeping my eye on is how the rotation ends up shaking out. I was critical of Lue's rotation in the Bulls recap and it will be interesting to see how the team adjusts, or if it adjusts at all. Mistakes will happen, especially in the early days of his tenure as head coach. What matters is how he and the team adjusts and how quickly those adjustments occur.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Predicition
I think we see a balanced attack from the Cavs 'Big Three', with each getting at least 18 points. We probably see shorter shifts to try and prolong how long the team is able to play up-tempo, as going from walking the ball up court and playing in half court sets to pushing the pace is going to take some time for the players to get used to. But with shorter shifts and a balanced performance against a bad Wolves team, I think the Cavs win 105-92.