Well then! Let's not waste any time talking about last night's loss to the Boston Celtics. The Cleveland Cavaliers could barely string together two coherent offensive possessions together, Kevin Love got hurt, Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger played key roles down the stretch for Boston, and Avery Bradley hit a game-winner off a Patented Brad Stevens After-Timeout Genius Play. Everything sucked. Let's move on.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. New Orleans Pelicans
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, Ohio
Where Can I Watch?: Fox Sports Ohio
Enemy Blog: The Bird Writes
Music: The Strokes - "You Only Live Once"
- Losing Kevin Love for the fourth quarter definitely hampered the Cavaliers in last night's tilt with Boston. Love left last night's game with a thigh contusion, and you could definitely tell the Cavs' offense lost an aspect of creativity with him missing. Love is listed as day-to-day for now, and likely will be a game-time decision for this matchup with the Pelicans. Love being available would certainly help, but is probably not a necessity - The Pelicans have the 28th defense in the league in terms of efficiency. They've been better lately, but still, this is not a defense that is difficult to solve, and it might be better to let Love rest up on a back-to-back. Ditto for Matthew Dellavedova, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring issue.
- If the Cavs are going to have Love sit again, trying to give heavy time to last night's closing lineup might be a good idea. The unit of Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, LeBron James, and Tristan Thompson had spent just 18 minutes together entering last night's game, and it seemed the group played with some hesitancy down the stretch because they were unsure of how to properly space the floor. Getting this group minutes tonight seems pertinent, because A) It's the lineup that gets the Cavs' best five athletes on the floor at the same time, B) It's probably the team's best small-ball look, and C) It's a unit that should give the Pelicans severe issues when Omer Asik is on the floor because there's zero players that he can effectively guard on the floor.
- It's time for everyone's favorite game show, Which Pelicans are Injured for tonight's contest? Shockingly, only Tyreke Evans is listed (knee injury), although the way this season has gone for them, it wouldn't surprise me if Jrue Holiday or Anthony Davis mysteriously appeared randomly on the injury report before tipoff.
- The key player to watch tonight for the Pelicans may be Eric Gordon. Sure, Davis is probably important to contain, but Gordon had a huge game in these teams' previous meeting, a 114-108 OT win for the Pels. Gordon scored 19 points on 7-9 shooting, and routinely was able to lose J.R. and Dellavedova along the three-point line. Having Shumpert for this matchup helps, as does Evans being out, because that means Shump will likely stick to Gordon for a majority of the game. But if he is able to get hot again and stretch the floor to open things for Holiday and Davis, that's a problem.
- The most interesting matchup to me, though, is how the Cavs defend Bryce Dejean-Jones. The rookie from Iowa State is on 10-day contracts for the Pelicans, and he's shot 46.7 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from three in eight games, of which he's started five. He might burn the Cavs if they don't take him seriously, and J.R. is likely going to have his hands full with him. The Pelicans were sick of their veteran backup point guard, Norris Cole, and decided to take a flier on adding bench backcourt depth with a D-Leaguer. As the driver of the "Find a Mo Williams Upgrade" bandwagon, I envy this approach.