The Cavs lost yesterday to the Wizards in a lackluster performance in a week full of lackluster performances. Now, they face a pesky Pacers team in the second half a back-to-back and it's hard to know exactly what version of the Cavs shows up.
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, Ohio
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA TV
Enemy Blog: Indy Cornrows
Music: Where Ya At - Future featuring Drake
Keys to the game
- Remember when the Cavs beat the Thunder on the road last week in one of their best performances of the season? It feels like forever ago at this point with the ensuing week the Cavs have had.
- Cleveland's loss to the Washington Wizards yesterday was the birthday candle on top of your birthday cake getting blown out by that family member that constantly annoys you and gives you a sweater for your July birthday. Even with LeBron James sitting out, the Cavs came into the game with a day off and the Wizards had played the night before. And the Cavs still trailed by as many as 30 before losing by 14 against a Washington team that, frankly, hasn't been very good this year.
- Overall, the Cavs' defense has been especially bad in the past week. Teams are shooting 49 percent from the field and Cleveland is giving up 106.9 points per 100 possessions. And in the last two games, they've been burned by opposing point guards. Raptors guard Kyle Lowry was first up and scored a career high 43 points on Friday in a game the Cavs blew late. Wizards guard John Wall followed it up with 21 points and 13 points in three quarters in Washington's romp.
- Everything about the Cavs right now feels off. They don't look as sharp as the Oklahoma City or the Spurs, much less the Warriors. Heck, the Raptors and Clippers are also playing better, more consistent basketball than the Cavs at the moment. In some ways, even though there are 24 games left, it feels as if the Cavs are just in cruise control until the playoff start. It's either that or we are seeing what this team really is.
- Based on LeBron leaving the bench during the fourth quarter yesterday, expect him to come out aggressive against Indiana. If there's one legitimate, lasting takeaway from the Cavs' loss to the Wizards, it's that the Cleveland relies on LeBron set the tempo and set the necessary effort level on a nightly basis. It's not a new development really - so many of his public comments since returning seem to be aimed at publically dictating where the rest of the teams needs to get better - but it's been reinforced. It's a complicated one too, as there are times where LeBron appears to be going through the motions himself.
- Indiana also isn't a team the Cavs can just show up and beat. Paul George's numbers have dipped since December, but he's still having a great season. The Pacers, who are currently sixth in the Eastern Conference, also play the Cavs tough. When these two teams last met, Cleveland escaped with an 111-106 overtime win and may have lost had Monta Ellis and Myles Turner not botched the Pacers' final possession in regulation. George Hill also went off against the Cavs, scoring 23 points.
- A win here isn't necessary, probably. But with how the past week as gone, it wouldn't hurt. After Indiana, the Cavs rematch the Wizards on Friday and then face the Boston Celtics on Saturday. Each game from here on out might matter in the standings as well, as Toronto is just two games back and after winning Friday, the Raptors hold the tiebreaker over the Cavs. More so than ever, the Cavs losing the top seed is on the table.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction
This is a wild guess. Maybe the Cavs will come out angsty and with energy and wreck the Pacers. Maybe they'll again come out flat and lose by double-digits.
This is probably wrong. But Cavs 99, Pacers 97.