The Cleveland Cavaliers will look to rebound from Monday’s loss as they take on the Sacramento Kings in their third stop in this five game road trip.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (8-2) at Sacramento Kings (3-6)
Where: Sacramento, CA - Golden 1 Center
When: 10 p.m. EST
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports+, NBA League Pass
Opposing blog: Sactown Royalty
Cavs’ expected starting lineup: Darius Garland / Donovan Mitchell / Caris LeVert / Evan Mobley / Jarrett Allen
Cavs’ injury report: Ricky Rubio (OUT - ACL), Isaiah Mobley (OUT - G League Assignment), Dylan Windler (OUT - right ankle)
Kings’ expected starting lineup: De’Aaron Fox / Kevin Huerter / Harrison Barnes / Keegan Murray / Domantas Sabonis
Kings’ injury report: Malik Monk (QUESTIONABLE - groin)
What to watch for
A bounce back game. Both teams have reason to believe they should’ve won their games on Monday night. The league’s last two minute report shows that the Los Angeles Clippers’ Reggie Jackson should’ve been called for a foul on what ended up being a Darius Garland turnover and Paul George should’ve been called for a shooting foul against Jarrett Allen. Both of these calls happened within the final two minutes. Those calls going Cleveland’s way might’ve swung the game.
Similarly the Kings were on the wrong side of some calls in their game against the Golden State Warriors on Monday night. The league confirmed that Kevin Huerter should’ve had three free throws at the end of regulation which would’ve given the Kings a chance to send the game to overtime.
Both teams will be looking to put these no calls behind them and ensure that their next game isn’t one that can be decided by a few calls going against them.
Working through the Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell pairing. The backcourt has not had many live reps as they’ve only played three full games together. The pairing worked well in crunch time against the Boston Celtics, but that same seamlessness wasn’t on display against the Clippers. Garland had a rough fourth quarter while Mitchell didn’t attempt a shot from the field in the final seven minutes.
We have very little lineup data on this pairing so far, but what we do have isn’t great. In 201 possessions the Cavs are being outscored by 7.1 points per 100 possessions when both are on the floor with an offensive rating of 108 and a defensive rating of 115.1. Conversely, lineups with just Garland have a net rating of 11.3 in 78 possessions (very small sample size) while lineups with just Mitchell have a net rating of 16.6 in 513 possessions.
This isn’t something to worry about at this point. The numbers are being weighed down by their collapse in LA and their slow start against the Toronto Raptors. That said, this is a duo that could use some time to work through some things together against a weaker defense.
Attacking the basket. Defense is one of the first things that comes to mind when you think of a Mike Brown led team. However, that hasn’t been the calling card for this team through nine games as they have the fourth worst defense in the league with a 115.4 defensive rating.
The Kings don’t have the personnel inside to stop teams with Domantas Sabonis as their starting center. Their perimeter defense also leaves something to be desired as neither De’Aaron Fox or Kevin Huerter are known for the defensive acumen. As a result, opponents are finishing 70.8% of their shots at the rim which is the second highest percentage in the league.
This is something that Cavs should be able to take advantage of as they are finishing 68.6% of their shots at the rim which is the sixth best percentage in the league. We’ll see if the Cavs will be able to get to the paint early and often tonight.