All things must end, and the Cavaliers 13-game winning streak fell on Friday night to the Pacers. The Cavs don’t get much time to lick their wounds though, as they play a back-to-back in Cleveland against the 76ers on Saturday night.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (18-8) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (14-11)
When: 8 p.m. ET
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Enemy Blog: Liberty Ballers
TV: Fox Sports Ohio
Online: Fox Sports GO, NBA League Pass
Cavs injuries: Isaiah Thomas (OUT - hip), Tristan Thompson (OUT - calf), Derrick Rose (OUT - ankle), Iman Shumpert (OUT - left knee)
76ers injuries: Joel Embiid (OUT - rest), T.J. McConnell (OUT - shoulder), Dario Saric (QUESTIONABLE - eye), Markelle Fultz (OUT - shoulder)
Three keys to the game:
- Joel Embiid isn’t playing in this game so he can play on Sunday against the Pelicans, and Kevin Love must be thrilled. That’s a tough matchup for him where he’s giving up size and athleticism. Amir Johnson or Richaun Holmes will be his likely matchup with Embiid sitting, and the 76ers lose a ton of dynamic scoring in the process.
- How will the Cavaliers bounce back from a loss on a back-to-back? Cleveland won their last back to back in Miami after beating this 76ers team during the winning streak, but they’ve lost the other second legs of back-to-backs they’ve played this year after losing the first half. LeBron James played 39 minutes last night and J.R. Smith played 34. They’ll need some help from the rest of the team to keep them fresh.
- How will Ben Simmons look in this game? There’s no shame in it, but LeBron completely destroyed the probable Rookie of the Year in their first matchup. James dropped 30 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in the blowout win while Simmons only mustered 10 points, eight rebounds and two assists. It seems fair to expect a better game this time around.
How will J.R. Smith and company track J.J. Redick off the ball? The Cavs lost Victor Oladipo repeatedly as he torched them on Friday night and struggled to contain him on the ball. Redick having a big game is going to be one of the ways the 76ers win this game while short-handed due to injuries across their roster. The Cavs need to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
The Cavaliers were ready for a letdown, and I think it continues in a loss fueled by heavy legs. 76ers 114, Cavaliers 107.