Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers
When: 6 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, Ohio
TV: Fox Sports Ohio
Enemy Blog: Indy Cornrows
Music: Drug Dealers Anonymous - Pusha T and Jay-Z
Keys to the game
- Lance Stephenson makes his return to the Pacers today. It’s sort of fitting that he’ll make his Indiana re-debut against a team featuring LeBron James considering their history. It’s unclear how many minutes he’ll play, but he will come off the bench. With the Wolves and Pelicans this year, Stephenson is averaging 6.6 points and 2.8 assists while playing 19.1 minutes per game. Generally, he’s looked solid after a down period.
- This game matters for Indiana. They are currently ninth in the East’s playoff standings and have the toughest schedule remaining.
- For the Cavs, it’s to be determined who will play. The team hopes Kyle Korver can play, but it’s unclear if he’ll be good to go. Same for Richard Jefferson, who has been dealing with knee tendonitis. Expect their status to be updated closer to tipoff.
- On Friday, Cleveland’s defense looked good generally. The 76ers finished shooting 48.8 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from three and had an offensive rating of 106.3. That offensive rating isn’t a big improvement for Cleveland and Philadelphia is bad, but it’s progress nonetheless.
- Look, good Cavs defensive possessions are possible:
- The Cavs enter today’s game half a game back of the Celtics. With a win, and with a Celtics loss to the Knicks, Cleveland will get back to the No. 1 seed. Wednesday’s Cavs-Celtics game looms large, doesn’t it? Depending on how the next few days shakeout, that game could decide who gets the top seed in the East.
- Because of Paul George, Myles Turner and some of the Pacers’ other, the Cavs’ defense will be pushed here. Their offense is about league average, but personnel wise, it can push Cleveland in interesting ways. Tristan Thompson, in particular, has an interestign day ahead of him. And if Jefferson doesn’t play, expect a lot of LeBron James defending Paul George. Unless the Cavs say ‘screw it’ and have J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert take that responsibility on.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
This game probably will be tightly contested and back and forth, if the Cavs’ recent play is any indication. Cavs 102, Pacers 99.