The Cavaliers are battling for their three seed in the East standings, and despite catching a break with Joel Embiid’s injury, they still will need to fight off both the 76ers and Pacers to even have home court advantage in the first round. With that in mind, they host the Pelicans in need of continued momentum.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. New Orleans Pelicans
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Enemy Blog: The Bird Writes
Online: Watch ESPN
Cavaliers injuries: Kevin Love (QUESTIONABLE - Concussion), J.R. Smith (QUESTIONABLE - Illness), Kyle Korver (OUT - foot soreness)
Pelicans injuries: Rajon Rondo (TBD - wrist), Alexis Ajinca (OUT - knee), DeMarcus Cousins (OUT - achilles), Frank Jackson (OUT - foot)
Three keys to the game
- Kevin Love is questionable after participating in shootaround, and the entire Cavaliers outlook is entirely different when he’s able to suit up. He slots role players like George Hill and Rodney Hood into natural roles and is hugely helpful to the Cavs effort on the defensive glass. That’s something that Jeff Green just can’t do in a small-ball four role. It’s not groundbreaking, but Kevin Love is quite good at basketball.
- The Pelicans are missing some of their playmakers, and Rajon Rondo might not suit up. With DeMarcus Cousins out for the season, a ton of creation will fall on the shoulders of Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis. We’ll see if the Cavaliers bring enough defensive effort.
- Have the Cavs really run this hot and cold from three while having great shooters littered across the floor? This team is either torching the nets or can’t hit the broad side of the barn. Cleveland is 17th in the league from three since the All-Star Break at 36.2 percent. In wins, that number flies up to 41.6 percent, which ranks them seventh. In losses? That drops to 29.1 percent, good for 28th in the league.
Larry Nance and Tristan Thompson are, as much as possible, the perfect guys to guard Anthony Davis. They’re agile, strong, and play strong individual defense at their best. How they handle him in space will go a long way in determining who wins the game.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
The Cavaliers take care of business despite a tough schedule and win at home 118-112.