The Cleveland Cavaliers came into the All-Star Break as the top team in the Eastern Conference, and since the NBA returned to action, they've been playing like it. A 106-95 win over the Chicago Bulls was a nice start, and yesterday's 115-92 blasting of the Oklahoma City Thunder was an even bigger announcement that the Cavs appear very locked in for the stretch run.
Tonight the Cavs get the second half of their home back-to-back, welcoming the Detroit Pistons to town. Detroit, if you missed it, got blown up by Anthony Davis yesterday, as AD posted 59 points and 20 rebounds in the season's most ridiculous individual performance. Now they get the Cavs. I'm sure they're excited about this.
But most importantly, Channing Frye should be cleared to play and get to suit up for the Cavs for the first time tonight. Time for things to get Channing Frye'd!
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Detroit Pistons
When: 7:00 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, Ohio
Flip the Channel to: Fox Sports Ohio
Enemy Blog: Detroit Bad Boys
Music: Zach Brown Band - Chicken Fried
- The matchup at the four is going to be a big one, as it usually is when the Cavs are involved. Tobias Harris debuted yesterday for the Pistons, scoring 16 points to go with five rebounds and a pair of blocks in a loss to the Pelicans. Harris is versatile in that he can play the three and four, and it'll be interesting to see how the Cavs defend him. Kevin Love probably won't get a ton of time on him as Harris is an off-the-dribble threat, and they will likely elect to put LeBron James on Harris rather than switching the post matchup and putting Love on Andre Drummond, for obvious reasons. Conversely, it'll be interesting to see who out of Harris, Stanley Johnson, and Marcus Morris gets the most time matched up with LeBron or Love. I would guess it'll be Morris on Love and Harris on LeBron to start the game, but that Johnson will get the bulk of the minutes on LeBron when he's in.
- Frye's debut will be interesting. The Cavs will likely put him at the four for a majority of his time on the floor, and I'd expect that we see Frye enter the game for Love near the end of the first quarter. In theory, the best lineup for using Frye is likely Kyrie Irving, Matthew Dellavedova, LeBron, Frye and Tristan Thompson, and that's something I'd like to see early on. In all likelihood, though, I can't see Frye getting a ton of minutes tonight, because any time he's thrown defending Drummond or Harris, I think that's a bad matchup.
- If the Pistons are going to stay in this game, it's likely going to come from Reggie Jackson. The Cavs are very thin at the point right now, with Delly still making his way back from a hamstring issue, Mo Williams out with knee soreness, and Kyrie battling stomach issues. This potentially means Jackson could have a field day. Say what you want about Jackson's efficiency numbers, but he's a strong guard who can run a good pick-and-roll, and if Delly and Kyrie are still not at 100 percent, and Shumpert is out, the Cavs are going to have issues stopping him. They'll have to get creative with defensive schemes to account for Jackson and Drummond, who combined for 48 points in the Pistons' 104-99 November win.
- Richard Jefferson had a huge game yesterday, going for 15 points on 4-5 shooting and six rebounds off the bench for the shorthanded Cavs. His minutes are nearly guaranteed to get reduced with Frye around, so it'll be interesting to see how much he's used going forward.
- Of course, the glass is going to be a huge battleground tonight, as well. Drummond has an 80-rebound lead on the rest of the league, and that has mainly been built on the offensive glass, where he averages 4.9 offensive boards per game. Needless to say, Thompson and Timofey Mozgov will have their hands full, and how well they do keeping Drummond from getting second-chance points is going to likely dictate the pace of the game. If the Cavs can stop Drummond from getting easy points and force him into PNR looks and post-ups, they should be well off.