Fresh off a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Cavs return home for for their final game prior the All-Star break. Let’s preview.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena
Enemy Blog: Indy Cornrows
Music: KiD CuDi - Surfin’
Keys to the game
- Channing Frye, starting in place of the injured Kevin Love, played well against the Wolves. He was +16 in 33 minutes and posted 21 points and 10 boards in one of his best games of the season. Tyronn Lue is going to have to lean on Derrick Williams (and maybe James Jones) over the next six weeks, but Frye playing close to this level every night would be huge. It seems a bit unlikely - particularly on the rebounding front - but time will tell.
- Iman Shumpert, in his return, slid right back into the starting lineup Tuesday and I’d expect that to continue. His ankle looked fairly healthy and was decent despite posting the worst +/- on the team. But it was game one back for him and getting another 30-ish minutes in tonight before the break should be good for his progress.
- Derrick Williams figures to continue playing 20-plus minutes a night and it’s a foregone conclusion (basically) that he’ll be with the Cavs for longer than 10 days. He’s not a great rebounder - and the Cavs are going to have some issues on the boards while Love is out - but he’s running the floor, defending with energy and complimenting the team’s best players. There’s not much more they can ask him to do.
- It also makes sense to keep him coming off the bench because a) the fit with him and Tristan Thompson isn’t great and b) that where he can be best utilized. Frye’s fit is more adjustable because of his shooting.
- The big question for Cavs-Pacers is about how much LeBron James and Kyrie Irving will play. LeBron played 40 against the Wolves, while Irving played 37 while dealing with a cold. Since both will be active on All-Star weekend, there’s an argument to be made that Cleveland should just rest both Wednesday. But at the very least, trying to limit their minutes a bit on the second half of a back-to-back seems like the right play. And frankly, the result of this game doesn’t matter that much.
- Standings watch: the Cavs enter this up 2.5 games on Boston, five games up on the Wizards, 6.5 games up on the Hawks and seven(!) games up on the Raptors.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
Indiana didn’t play last night and the Cavs did. So, Pacers 105, Cavs 99.