The Cleveland Cavaliers are coming off their worst offensive outing of the season. They put up a whopping 81 points while shooting 34.5% from the field in their loss to the Knicks. They have an opportunity to turn it around on Sunday night, going up against an abysmal opponent in the Minnesota Timberwolves on the road.
The Cavs are still without Kevin Love (calf strain) and Matthew Dellavedova (concussion), but Larry Nance Jr. made his return from a sprained right wrist on Friday. The Cavs desperately need Love’s offense, and there have been reports that he is doing light work at practice, and will continue to ramp it up next week. That is a great sign for the Cavs' offense, but in the meantime, Darius Garland and Collin Sexton will continue to be the focal points. Andre Drummond should be able to dominate the paint against an inferior opponent, and Nance should have a much more efficient game than he did on Friday. Overall, the Cavs have a great opportunity to bounce back and gain some momentum moving forward.
Cavs: Darius Garland / Collin Sexton / Isaac Okoro / Larry Nance Jr. / Andre Drummond
Timberwolves: D’Angelo Russell / Josh Okogie / Anthony Edwards / Malik Beasley / Ed Davis
Things to watch for:
- Darius Garland needs to stay aggressive: Garland is coming off his career-high in points with 24 against the Knicks on Friday. Garland was the lone bright spot in Friday’s brutal loss, and his confidence seems to improve every time he’s on the court. The Knicks have the best scoring defense in the NBA, while the Timberwolves have the 27th in the NBA. This matchup has the potential for another breakout performance for Garland if he continues to be aggressive and attack the defense. Garland’s three-point shot was on full display on Friday, shooting 4-6 from deep, if he keeps up the hot shooting, he can take over a game and build on his strong start to his sophomore season.
- Offense on the road: The Cavs' offensive struggles are even more glaring on the road than they are at home. At home, they average 111.1 points per game and have a 6-4 record. On the road, they average only 96.4 points per game, with a 3-6 record. Thankfully, Minnesota is one of the worst teams in the NBA, and have a bottom-five defense. Minnesota is also a very small team, especially with Towns still out of the lineup. The Cavs have the size and guard play to exploit the Timberwolves' defense and get the offense back on track.
- Three-point shooting struggles: The three-point shot is not a friend to the Cavs. They continue to struggle to hit shots from beyond the arc. They were 8-26 on Friday, while Garland made half their threes. They need to improve their three-point shooting to turn their offense around. The addition of Love will inevitably help the shooting, but Cedi Osman and Nance need to become more consistent from deep. Considering how bad the Timberwolves are defensive, the Cavs can build some confidence with their shooting. Turning this issue around midseason is very unlikely unless the Cavs make some trades. The players will have to work on their three-point shot in the offseason to truly become better shooters.
How to watch:
Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Go, and NBA League Pass