Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (0-1) vs. Indiana Pacers (0-1)
When: 8 p.m. EST
Where: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse — Cleveland, Ohio
Where on my eyeballs: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
After facing an Orlando Magic team with a good defense and lackluster offense, the Cavs face a tougher test against the Pacers. Indiana lost its home opener to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night, and will look to spoil the party for the Cavs.
Indiana is in a similar position to the Cavs in that they are looking to integrate a few new pieces into the lineup. Although in its case it’s veterans like Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb, vs. several for Cleveland.
The length of the Magic caused some issues for the Cavs offensively. While the starting lineup performed exceptionally well, it did it in-spite of an inability to get Kevin Love going. Plus, once John Beilein through some reserves into the mix, things quickly fell apart.
Indiana’s tandem of Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis are tremendously talented, but don’t present the same challenge defensively against Love that Aaron Gordon or Jonathon Isaac do. How competitive the Cavs are in this game likely will be dependent on how assertive and effective Love is on the offensive end.
As for the Cavs guards, one of them will have the misfortune of being guarded by Brogdon, while the other will be defended by Lamb. What Nate McMillan chooses to do defensively and what adjustments he makes to the Cavs backcourt will be fascinating.
Darius Garland should be a little more comfortable within the Cavs offense after finally seeing some action as a starter, then having two days off to practice. Like Love, I expect more assertiveness from him and hopefully fewer forced passes into traffic.
Winning the battle on the boards and keeping Indiana out of transition will be essential to winning this game. They’re a team looking to figure things out in the halfcourt, and the Cavs can’t make it easy to bust out of their one game slump.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
I think Darius Garland and Kevin Love come up with strong performances offensively, and the Cavs overcome a few hiccups throughout the game to win 116-112.