The Cleveland Cavaliers have won two games in a row, but it was against subpar competition. They will now travel to Philadelphia and take on the 76ers at 7 p.m. on Saturday night. The 76ers are the top team in the East, and have the second best home record in the NBA.
How to watch:
Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Go and NBA League Pass
The Cavs are remaining cautious with Kevin Love and will not rush him back from injury, just for him to have a setback. That is the logical approach considering Love’s injury history. Taurean Prince is considered questionable, and was only able to put in eight minutes against the Houston Rockets, and he struggled mightily. It’s safe to assume the Cavs will continue to start Dean Wade, especially because they have won both games that he’s started. Wade has looked promising in both of his starts, and has been a great compliment to the young core.
The 76ers will be without their second leading scorer in Tobias Harris (knee) and will presumably start backup power forward Mike Scott.
Cavs: Darius Garland / Collin Sexton / Isaac Okoro / Dean Wade / Jarrett Allen
76ers: Ben Simmons / Seth Curry / Danny Green / Mike Scott / Joel Embiid
Things to watch for:
· Jarrett Allen vs. Joel Embiid: It doesn’t get much tougher for Allen then going up against one of the MVP frontrunners in Embiid. Allen has been dominant the last three games, but they did not face any great scoring centers. With Tobias Harris sidelined, Embiid may take on more of a scoring burden than usual. Jarrett Allen does not back down from a challenge, but the Cavs may take the approach of doubling Embiid and forcing other players to beat them. Regardless of how they decide to defend Embiid, this matchup will happen early and often, and I’m eager to see how Allen fairs against the force that is Embiid.
· Can the Cavs put their road struggles behind them: It is unclear how meaningful playing at home vs. on the road is this season, considering fans are not allowed at most arenas. Travel and familiarity are the biggest obstacles to overcome on the road, and the Cavs have not been able to get over those. They are 3-12 on the road, and their three wins have come against: Detroit (2OT), Atlanta and Memphis. Their last road win was January 7 against Memphis, when Ja Morant was out due to injury. The Cavs are still figuring out their rotations since sidelining Drummond, so growing pains are to be expected. If the Cavs were able to beat the best team in the East on the road, that could go a long way in the development of the young core.
· Will Okoro guard Ben Simmons: Simmons may also take on a larger scoring role with Harris sidelined, and Okoro will most likely have the task of slowing him down. Okoro has had to guard players of all shapes and sizes, but Simmons athleticism could pose an interesting challenge. Simmons is not a great scorer but he is one of the most physically imposing players in the league due to his size and speed. Okoro has struggled with players that are bigger and stronger than him, but considering Simmons refuses to shoot the ball, this will be a unique challenge for the rookie. If Okoro can slow him down and not let him get to the paint at will, then Embiid will have to carry the team, and that could wear him down on both ends of the floor.