The Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2021-22 NBA regular season kicks off here, with a matchup in Memphis against Ja Morant and the Grizzlies. It’s a fun matchup to start with, as Memphis is also a younger team and features one of the most electric young players in the league in Morant.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (0-0) at Memphis Grizzlies (0-0)
Start time: 8 p.m. EST
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
Opposing blog: Grizzly Bear Blues
Betting line: Grizzlies +7.5
Cavs projected starters: Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Isaac Okoro, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen
Grizzlies projected starters: Ja Morant, De’Anthony Melton, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
Cavs injuries: Dean Wade (DOUBTFUL - right ankle sprain), Dylan Windler (OUT - right hip strain)
Grizzlies injuries: Dillon Brooks (OUT - hand fracture recovery)
What to watch for
- For the Cavs, it’s going to be key to see how the Mobley-Allen duo does against the Jackson Jr.-Adams duo. It’s the first regular season game together for both teams (Adams is in his year with the Grizzlies), with both teams banking on these partnerships working. For Cleveland, it’ll be interesting especially to see how Mobley looks. It seems likely Allen will draw the more bruising, physical Adams inside. But Jackson is really good when healthy, particularly as a stretchy big. It’s a good test for a partnership (Frobley? Tower City?) that the Cavs need to work if they have any hopes of being decent this year.
- Also key to watch for: The Cavs’ rotations. Dylan Windler and Dean Wade being out due to injury could mean this isn’t locked in stone, but it seems like Kevin Love, Lauri Markkanen, Ricky Rubio and Cedi Osman and/or Lamar Stevens come off the bench. Two looks to see if the Cavs use: three-guard lineups with Rubio playing with Sexland and any time Markkanen plays some minutes at the three. They could be looks the team turns to in search of solutions if Osman/Stevens aren’t cutting it.
- It’s not worth getting too high or too low about the start to this Cavs season. The Grizzlies’ are just further along right now, so it makes sense that they are 7.5 point favorites over the Cavs. (Cleveland was 28th in net rating last year, Memphis was 14th.) Then the Cavs play a back-to-back at home vs. the Hornets and Hawks and then a long road trip comes. It’s just a brutal start to the season, particularly for a young team that is going to need time to figure out what it is exactly.