The shorthanded Cavaliers will look to rebound from back-to-back losses in Orlando. This will be a tough task as the Cavs are already without six regular rotation pieces and will be playing their third road game in four days.
How to watch:
Tip-off is at 8 p.m. on Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Go, and NBA League Pass.
The Cavs will still be without Kevin Love (calf), Dylan Windler (hand), Matthew Dellavedova (concussion), Dante Exum (calf), and Kevin Porter (personal). The statuses of Damyean Dotson, Collin Sexton and Isaac Okoro are still up in the air. Dotson and Sexton both came down awkwardly on their ankles in Wednesday’s loss. In an ideal world, they’d both sit the second night of a road back-to-back. The Cavs may not have that choice as the number of healthy bodies on the roster is growing thin. The same thing could be said about Isaac Okoro who just returned to the lineup on Wednesday.
We won’t know until closer to tip off who exactly will and won’t be available. As for now, I’m going to say Sexton and Okoro will be in the starting lineup given the situation, but we’ll see.
Cavs: Collin Sexton / Cedi Osman / Isaac Okoro / Larry Nance Jr. / Andre Drummond
Grizzlies: Tyus Jones / Dillon Brooks / Kyle Anderson / Brandon Clarke / Jonas Valanciunas
Things to watch for:
- One of these teams has to win, so that could be interesting: Per NBA bylaws, every game needs to have a winner even if neither team is deserving. There might not be a deserving winner tonight. We know how banged up the Cavs are as we’re expecting a heavy dose of Lamar Stevens, Dean Wade, and Thon Maker. The Grizzlies are in a rough place as well. They’ve looked lost at times without their star Ja Morant and are off to an ugly 2-5 start. This should be a scheduled win for the Grizzlies given this is the second half of a road back-to-back for the Cavs, but you never know. Neither team is in a good place right now so it should be an ugly game.
- The Cavs could attempt to join the modern NBA today: For better or worse, the winning team is generally the one who makes more threes and does a better job defending it. Right now, the Cavs aren’t doing a good job with either. The Magic went into their mini two-game series against the Cavs 29th in three-point percentage, but found a way to connect on 27 of their 63 (42.9%) attempts. Conversely, the Cavs went 14 of 54 (25.9%) in the two-game series. You aren’t going to win many games when you can’t defend the line and can’t connect from deep with some regularity. We’ll see if that changes tonight.
- The offense needs a jumpstart from their starters not named Collin Sexton: The Cavs have not scored more than 100 points in five straight games. Cleveland needs more out of their starters given their lack of depth. Larry Nance Jr. has struggled offensively to start the season as he’s averaging just 8.5 points per game and has only cracked double digits once in his last four games. Cedi Osman is either hot or cold and there seems to be no in-between. Andre Drummond is a solid offensive player, but you can’t build an offense around him even though we’ve seen a steady diet of post-ups recently. One of these three players will need to step up tonight if they’re going to be competitive. Sexton can’t do it all. We’ll see if the Cavs can break the chalupa barrier tonight.
- Isaac Okoro (if he plays) is the reason to watch this game: Okoro had a solid showing in his first game back. His stats don’t exactly jump off the page as he finished with 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting with 2 assists in 28 minutes. The stats don’t tell the whole story. He is a rare rookie in that he has the ability to come in on day one and make a positive impact. The rookie has a tremendous feel for the game on both ends despite being raw offensively. We’ve seen glimpses of the player who could become every game he’s played which is exciting. He and Sexton are really the only reason to watch this team right now with all of their injuries.