The All Star break has passed and we hope that you are all rested and ready for the stretch run of this season.
The Cleveland Cavaliers host the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night in a game that will have implications for the draft, although the importance either way won’t be clear until after the lottery.
Who? Phoenix Suns (11-48) at Cleveland Cavaliers (12-46)
When? 7:00 p.m. EST
Where? Quicken Loans Arena — Cleveland, Ohio
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
Cavaliers status update: John Henson (Wrist - OUT), Tristan Thompson (Foot - OUT), J.R. Smith (Not with team)
Suns status update: De’Anthony Melton (Ankle - OUT), T.J. Warren (Ankle - OUT)
The Suns come to the Q losers of 15 consecutive games, but can tie the Cavs in the win column with a win tonight.
Both teams will be looking a little different than they have for the majority of the season as they kick off the post All Star stretch run. For the Cavs, they will have Kevin Love as the catalyst for everything they run for however many minutes he plays. While the Suns finally have some competence at the point guard position with the presence of Tyler Johnson.
Devin Booker has been very solid as the team’s primary ball handler and will likely continue to play in that role. But adding a combo guard in Johnson should make his life easier and help Phoenix be less predictable offensively. Johnson has struggled to adjust in his first three games in Phoenix, but he was an important member of Miami’s rotation and could benefit from preparation over the break.
Having a break is a rare commodity in the NBA. Players are rarely given chances to take a step back and look at what they’ve been doing. Travel and other realities of the schedule mean there isn’t much time for practice, let alone rest.
It’ll be interesting to see if both Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman can string together a strong final 24 games of the season. Osman has been much better since the calendar flipped over to 2019 and Sexton’s last five games were also incredibly encouraging after a prolonged period of stagnation in his game.
The presence of Love should help both players play in a roles that are better suited to their current skill sets. Whether they recognize this reality and resist the urge to force things will be the true test.
Going into this summer with two first round picks and two young players that closed out the season strong would be an encouraging first step towards a brighter future. We’ll see if the Cavs young duo can make that vision a reality.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction:
The Suns are bad. Really really bad. Anything can happen when two bad teams meet, especially with lottery balls on the line. Plus DeAndre Ayton and Devin Booker are capable of being really good on any given night. But I think the Cavs come away with a 112-107 win.