Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The Cleveland Cavaliers saw their reign as one of the few remaining undefeated teams come to an end on Tuesday night, as they fell at home to the New York Knicks 95-86. It was a valiant effort for your Clevelanders, but, they just were unable to find an offensive rhythm in the first quarter and were mostly playing catch up front there. Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff this game was one of the team’s first true tests and the young and impressionable Cavaliers need to continue to learn how to battle through adversity.
Well, that same test will be applied for the next several games for the Cavs as they hit the road. Their first stop, and last game of 2020, will be in Indianapolis where they will take on the Pacers. It’ll be an intriguing contest for Cleveland, and will likely set the barometer for remaining games on this road trip.
How to watch:
Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Go, and NBA League Pass.
With Kevin Love expected to be out for the next 3-4 weeks due to a strained right calf, Larry Nance Jr. will draw the start on a nightly basis. We got our first glimpse of it in the loss to the Knicks and Nance stuffed the stat sheet with 9 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and 4 steals. The real issue lied in Cedi Osman, who got the start at small forward for Cleveland against New York. Osman looked overwhelmed at times and should likely go back to his primary role as a high-energy perimeter threat off the bench. Thankfully, it appears rookie forward Isaac Okoro didn’t test positive for COVID-19, despite being placed on the health and safety protocol list, since zero NBA players have tested positive for coronavirus out of 495 tested since Dec. 24. If Okoro is fully recovered from his foot injury, he will likely draw the start for the Cavs against the Pacers. If not, perhaps Bickerstaff should consider putting Dante Exum or Damyean Dotson in the starting lineup instead. Cleveland will need all the help it can get since this Indiana squad will be a handful for them.
Cavs: Darius Garland/Collin Sexton/Isaac Okoro/Larry Nance Jr./Andre Drummond
Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon/Victor Oladipo/T.J. Warren/Domantas Sabonis/Myles Turner
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:
- Things getting rough in SexLand: Against the Knicks, the tandem of Darius Garland and Collin Sexton looked lackluster at times offensively. That trend may continue against Indiana, who features two defense studs in their backcourt in Malcolm Brogdon and Victor Oladipo. If the duo gets frustrated early, things may fall apart for the Cavs fast offensively. Since...
- Indiana corn fed strong bigs: ...the Pacers also feature a scary defensive, and offensive, tandem in their front court as well with Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. Both Andre Drummond and Larry Nance Jr. should fare well defensively against them, but, it could turn into a slog offensively for Cleveland’s big man tandem.
- It’s raining three’s in Circle City: Under new head coach Nate Bjorkgren, the Pacers have finally become a modern team offensively by shifting towards a more perimeter-oriented attack. Cleveland ranks right in the middle in three-point defense, so that will be tested against a trigger happy Pacers squad.