Sometimes after a bad beat-down, you need something to cleanse the palate. The Cleveland Cavaliers blowout loss to the Houston Rockets is certainly in the running for rock bottom of this season. So following up that game with a matchup against an Aaron Gordon-less Orlando Magic is a welcomed opportunity to get a bounce-back win.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (30-21) vs. Orlando Magic (16-36)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Amway Center - Orlando, Florida
Where on my eyeballs: Fox Sports Ohio
Cavs status updates: Kevin Love (Hand - Out), Dwyane Wade (Illness - Questionable)
Magic status updates: Aaron Gordon (Hip - Questionable), Jonathan Isaac (Ankle - Out), Terrence Ross (MCL - Out), Nikola Vucevic (Hand - Out)
Tuesday’s matchup is the first leg of a back to back before the Cavs head home to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves. But with the way the team has been playing, this is not a game they can afford to turn into a “look-ahead” game. They barely escaped with a one-point win the last time these teams played, and that was with Kevin Love in the lineup.
With Dwyane Wade questionable, as well as Tyronn Lue’s plan to rest him on back to backs, we will likely see more of Derrick Rose. Rose has been playing better since returning to the lineup, and will need to continue to play a more controlled game if he is going to be a positive contributor.
But as has often been the case lately, this game will be decided by the amount of effort LeBron James shows. Saturday’s loss was arguably his worst performance since returning to the Cavaliers, as he scored 11 points and was barely engaged for a nationally televised game.
Cleveland simply does not have any reliable options at the moment if LeBron isn’t himself. Fatigue, whether it be physical or mental, has settled in and derailed his MVP caliber season. While some help from the supporting cast would be appreciated, he is held to a higher standard as a leader and needs to set the tone for everybody else. Trades and roster moves can help, but without leadership this team has no chance against any opponent.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction:
Cavs win ugly. At this point, there’s no reason to believe the team has the requisite chemistry or personnel to come away with a convincing win against any opponent. They still are the better team, probably, so I predict that the Cavs win 103-98.