After their loss to the Wizards on Friday, the Cavs are in Indianapolis to face the Pacers. The last time Cleveland faced Indiana, on Jan. 8, it lost by eight. Will it go better this time around?
When: 7:00 p.m. EST
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse — Indianapolis, Indiana
Enemy Blog: Indy Cornrows
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
Online: Fox Sports GO, NBA League Pass
Cavs status updates: Kevin Love (OUT - rest), Brandon Knight (TBD), Tristan Thompson (OUT - foot), Cedi Osman (TBD - ankle), John Henson (OUT - left wrist surgery)
Pacers status updates: Doug McDermott (TBD - rib injury), Victor Oladipo (OUT - right knee surgery)
Three keys to the game
- The Pacers still hold advantages despite losing Victor Oladipo for the year. Simply put, Indiana executes its offense better, has a much better defense and holds advantages all over the floor when compared to the Cavs. With Kevin Love out after his short debut on Friday, and perhaps no Cedi Osman, Cleveland has to execute if it wants a chance. Which brings us to point No. 2....
- Figuring things out on the fly. Against the Wizards, with new pieces playing and players not familiar with each other or the schemes, simple mistakes were made. For instance: Switches happened when a player was supposed to fight through a screen. With no practice time and the team traveling directly into another game, the Cavs are going to have to make this all work as they go and make in-game adjustments as necessary. There’s just no way around it.
- How will the Cavs do rebounding against the Pacers? For the year, Indiana is only slightly ahead of Cleveland in defensive rebounding percentage and half a percent behind the Cavs in offensive rebounding percentage, per nba.com/stats. Surprisingly, since Jan. 18 when Tristan Thompson missed his first game due to foot soreness, the Cavs are third in the league in defensive rebounding percentage, per nba.com/stats. If Larry Nance Jr. and Ante Zizic — with help from David Nwaba crashing tom the wing and Marquese Chriss off the bench — can win the rebounding battle against Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, perhaps the Cavs can control the game’s tempo just enough to make it competitive.
It’s the definition of small sample size, but Collin Sexton is taking fewer mid-range shots and taking more threes over the last two games. This trend is worth watching not just on Saturday, but for the rest of the year.
Against the Pacers, in his matchup against Darren Collison, Sexton is going against a savvy vet who will test his defense and his ability to navigate screens. But on the other end, Sexton’s speed and pace could help him draw some fouls against Collison. Watch to see if Sexton uses his speed to get to the right spots and then try and bait Collison into fouling him.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
The Cavs are coming into his game off of a game and a flight from Washington D.C. The Pacers were off on Friday and won at home on Thursday. Indiana is also a better team, even without Oladipo. Pacers 105, Cavs 96.