The Cleveland Cavaliers will catch the Los Angeles Clippers on the second half of a back-to-back at home on Wednesday night. This will be another opportunity for the young core to see how they measure up to one of the elite teams in the NBA.
How to watch:
Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Go and NBA League Pass
The Cavs have already ruled out Larry Nance Jr. (sprained wrist), while Andre Drummond (back) is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game. Neither of them played on Monday and the offense looked much different in the Cavs win over the Timberwolves. The Cavs missed a lot of open shots, but they had a better rhythm that was apparent due to Jarrett Allen not forcing shots. Allen was a difference maker on both ends of the court, and was able to capitalize on earning his first start for the Cavs. Due to Allen’s impressive performance, it now poses the question of how they handle the center position moving forward. Drummond is having a great season statistically, but the offense seems to flow much better with Allen in the game. Darius Garland and Collin Sexton have more freedom to operate the offense and create for others with Allen in the starting lineup.
Drummond is a phenomenal talent and an excellent rebounder, and he will undoubtedly take his starting spot back when he’s fully healthy. But it was an interesting look for the young guards to look so confident running the offense with Allen out there. If Drummond is unable to go, Allen will have another opportunity to showcase why he belongs in the starting lineup.
Cavs: Darius Garland / Collin Sexton / Isaac Okoro / Taurean Prince / Jarrett Allen
Clippers: Reggie Jackson / Paul George / Kawhi Leonard / Nicolas Batum / Serge Ibaka
Things to watch for:
- How will the Cavs defend Leonard and George: The Cavs small backcourt has forced them to play zone at times, while giving teams different looks defensively. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard will be challenging for the Cavs to matchup with, so expect numerous different looks from J.B. Bickerstaff. Isaac Okoro will most likely be on Leonard when the Cavs decide to play man, and this will be another tough test for the rookie. Okoro has already had the pleasure of taking on LeBron James and James Harden and he had some really solid defensive possessions, more so on Harden than James, but his defense will be put to the test again on Wednesday night. (This, of course, assumes that both George and Leonard play after playing on Tuesday night.)
- Cavs struggles against top defenses: The Cavs have already faced some of the best defenses in the NBA, in the Lakers, Knicks, Jazz and Grizzlies. They haven’t faced a top defense without Drummond, and that could be the case Wednesday if he is unable to go against the Clippers, who have the fifth best scoring defense in the league. Drummond was the leading scorer for the Cavs against the Grizzlies, Lakers and one of the Knicks games. The bourdon will be on Sexton and Garland to deliver in a big way, while the Clippers are coming off a tough loss to the Brooklyn Nets. The Cavs were able to beat the Grizzlies and the Knicks led by Drummond, but struggled mightily to garner much offense in their other games against the top defenses.
- Cedi Osman and Dylan Windler: The Cavs are missing some crucial pieces in their frontcourt, and they will need to rely on some outside shooting for their offense to be effective. Windler only played five minutes on Monday, while Dotson played 11. That will likely shift back to Windler’s favor, as him and Osman provide the best scoring punch off the bench. Osman is very streaky, but when he is locked in, he is an excellent perimeter shooter. Windler and Osman will have to step up for the Cavs in this game, and will need to stay locked in for the brutal upcoming schedule for the Cavs. They need depth now more than ever, while they wait for the return of Nance, Drummond and Love.