The struggling Cleveland Cavaliers host the Minnesota Timberwolves as they look to get back into the win column. The Cavs will be without Kevin Love,
so neither team will have a productive player in the lineup from the 2014 trade so the team will once again need to find a way to replace his production.
Who? Minnesota Timberwolves (19-29) at Cleveland Cavaliers (32-15)
When? 7 PM ET
Where? Quicken Loans Arena
Where on my eyeballs? ESPN
The absence of Kevin Love puts the depth of an already shallow Cavs team under the microscope. The success and harmony of the big three this season has done a lot to hide the warts of this roster. The trio averages 25 made field goals a game, the Cavaliers average 39.1. They also account for 16.1 of the 21.8 assists the team averages. Removing Love from the lineup impacts the spacing and rebounding for the team, but it also increases the load everybody else must shoulder.
As defending champs, the Cavs can’t expect anything less than the oppositions best effort every night. Andrew Wiggins will undoubtedly be looking for his first win against LeBron James and the Cavs. The Wolves are 7-3 over their last ten games and have been putting it together after a lackluster start.
Like the Cavs of late, the Wolves struggles have largely been a result of their bench units. Beyond the starting five, the team just lacks the depth and experience to build or maintain leads. The team’s defense has improved after being non-existent, and Karl-Anthony Towns continues to show why many, including myself, believe he’s a future MVP in this league.
I expect a better effort than the team’s loss to the Mavericks. With a depleted roster, winning on a second night of a back to back seemed unlikely. The Cavs are rested, at home, and should at least give it their best shot. Wiggins always comes out strong against the Cavs and this will inevitably be a measuring stick game for the Wolves. If the Cavs aren’t ready for it, we could be in for a rough night.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction:
I think this will be a high scoring affair. Despite his reputation, the Cavs defense is significantly better defensively with Love on the floor this season. Without him, the defensive load on Tristan Thompson will increase significantly. The Wolves shouldn’t be able to stop the Cavs either, so I’m going to go with a 115-109 win for the wine and gold.