The Cleveland Cavaliers opened up their season with a 121-114 win over the Charlotte Hornets where they flat out looked dominant at times. The Sexland backcourt of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland combined for 49 points and 11 assists and were integral in guiding Cleveland to a win. Now, the Cavs are on the road in the first game of a back-to-back series against the Detroit Pistons.
Detroit, who lost their season opener 111-101 to the Minnesota Timberwolves, are in the midst of a rebuild. They have a strong and very French foundation in Killian Hayes and Sekou Doumbouya but they still have a long way to go before they’re truly relevant again.
How to watch:
Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Go, and NBA League Pass.
Former Cavs All-Star Kevin Love is bit of an unknown variable heading into this matchup with Detroit. Ditto for former Piston and current Cavalier Andre Drummond. With Love, he’s been sidelined with a sore Achilles tendon and was unable to play in Cleveland’s home opener. But, signs are pointing towards Love being available this weekend. The problem is for Love and Drummond is when they’re going to play. Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff eluded to the fact that he’s planning on resting Love and Drummond in back to back scenarios but didn’t delve much further into it. So, there’s a chance we see both Love and Drummond on Saturday against Detroit but having them rest Sunday against Philadelphia.
But, with the 76ers having Joel Embiid in tow, it would make more sense to stagger Love and Drummond and play Kevin on Saturday and Andre on Sunday. That means either Larry Nance Jr. draws the start and slides Love to the five or we see Thon Maker or Javale Mcgee draw the start. I hope it’s the former, since we need a little Love-Maker in our lives but it’ll probably be the latter.
Cavs: Darius Garland/Collin Sexton/Isaac Okoro/Kevin Love/JaVale McGee
Pistons: Killian Hayes/Delon Wright/Jerian Grant/Blake Griffin/Mason Plumlee
This section will be updated as we get closer to tip-off and find out more about who is and is not available for Cleveland.
Things to watch for:
- The dynamic duo of Sexland: First, big shouts to former Fear the Sword writers and current hosts of The Chase Down Justin Rowan and Carter Rodriguez for the nickname. Second, Garland and Sexton were too much for the Hornets backcourt rotation of Terry Rozier, Devonte’ Graham and LaMelo Ball to handle defensively. Sexton set the tone early, and never took his foot off the gas on offense. Garland, meanwhile, started out slow and eventually caught up with Sexton and had one of the best games of his young Cleveland career. Heading into a similar matchup with Detroit, look for Sexland to try and capitalize on the situation again. Also look for the Pistons to throw wrinkles like Jerian Grant the tandem’s way as well.
- JaVale McGee the difference maker: While Drummond looked fairly mediocre in Cleveland’s seasonal debut, McGee was sensational. The former three-time champion provided quality rim protection and a much-needed defensive presence off the bench for the Cavs - and finished the night with 13 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block in 19 minutes of action. If Drummond does sit, look for McGee to have more of a positive impact defensively overall and for him to act as a lob threat for Garland and Sexton.
- The defensive versatility of Okoro-Nance: One thing that won’t properly convey through the box score in Cleveland’s win over Charlotte is how dynamic Isaac Okoro and Larry Nance Jr. were together on both ends of the floor. On defense, Okoro and Nance were all over the place altering shots and making plays - Okoro played a huge part in keeping LaMelo Ball scoreless during the game. With a defense-first coach in Bickerstaff, look for this pairing to only grow stronger in time. Against Detroit, they’ll have their hands full with the likes of Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, and Killian Hayes.