The Cleveland Cavaliers are back in action after getting most of the weekend off, and they’ll have had a couple good practice days to keep the culture on track. After falling behind big to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night but then rallying to make things somewhat competitive, they have an opportunity Tuesday to score a nice win. The Detroit Pistons have been playing better after a nightmare start, but are still a team that has lost twice to the Charlotte Hornets in the last week.
They’re relatively healthy, and are filled with veterans that would like to win right now. They’re also a team that theoretically doesn’t have the guards to really punish Darius Garland or Collin Sexton. In other words, we have an intriguing matchup of not very good teams. I know I’m excited.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (5-14) vs. Detroit Pistons (7-13)
When: 7:00 p.m. EST
Where: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse — Cleveland, Ohio
Where on my eyeballs: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
Interestingly, these team’s strengths are in the frontcourt. Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, and Markieff Morris is pretty good, particularly when Griffin is healthy and able to play at the level he did last season. Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. might be the Cavs’ three best players, all due respect to Jordan Clarkson (and Collin Sexton, every fourth or fifth game). Whether or not there’s a meaningful rebounding edge could go a long way here; the Cavs offense has seemingly relied on offensive rebounding to help it stay afloat at various points in the year.
One data point as we try and figure out how good the Cavs are is the relative health the team has experienced thus far. Dylan Windler and John Henson are notable examples of guys missing time, but they weren’t expected be starters. Love has missed three of 19 games and Thompson has missed one, but the Cavs have had Cedi Osman, Darius Garland and Collin Sexton (who has still not missed a game as a pro) available all year. For Garland in particular, this is a good sign after he spent the last 12 months recovering from injury.
It is a little worrisome in terms of whether or not the team can make a leap during the season; it’s unlikely the team will make a trade for an impact player (in fact, perhaps the opposite) and they aren’t likely to get anyone back that can change the course of their season - again, all respect to Windler and Henson. On top of that, an injury to anyone of those guys or Jordan Clarkson could really bring the team down. Hopefully they can keep guys healthy if they want a slow and steady rate of improvement on the year.
A big area of focus for that improvement would simply be in the guards distribution of the ball. Assists are not a great stat for a variety of reasons - they rely on someone else to make a shot, assists on threes and dunks are different than dunks on long mid-range jump shots, etc., but you would like to have someone on the team averaging more than 3.1 of them per game. Garland doesn’t have the ball in his hands all the time, but perhaps he should. His somewhat high turnover rate given his relative lack of assists is a little bit of a warning sign, but he’s still growing.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
Some time off will do the Cavs good. They win at home 115-111.