The Cleveland Cavaliers are at it again. Tonight, they follow up Monday night’s overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers with a tilt against James Harden, Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers. It’s an important game in the standings — if the season ended today, this would be the three/six matchup in the first round —b ut also because, if the Cavs lose today, they’ll lose the season series regardless of what happens on April 3. Here’s what you can expect.
HOW TO WATCH
Where: Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse — Cleveland, Ohio
When: 7 p.m. EST
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports App, NBA League Pass
Spread: Cavs +3
Opposing blog: Liberty Ballers
Expected Cavs starting lineup: Darius Garland / Isaac Okoro / Lamar Stevens / Lauri Markkanen / Evan Mobley
Cavs injury report: Jarrett Allen (OUT - finger), Collin Sexton (OUT - knee), Rajon Rondo (OUT - right ankle sprain), Dean Wade (OUT - right knee soreness)
Expected 76ers starting lineup: Tyrese Maxey / James Harden / Matisse Thybulle / Tobias Harris / Joel Embiid
76ers injury report: Charles Bassey (OUT - G League assignment), Myles Powell (OUT - G League two-way), Jaden Springer (OUT - G League assignment)
Three things to watch
GODZILLA JOEL EMBIID ALERT. We’re less than 48 hours removed from Embiid vs. Nikola Jokic, the NBA equivalent of a collision between planets. Hopefully Joel Embiid is still tired from that, because the Cavs might not have much else to throw at him. Last month in Philly, Embiid pile-drove to a 40-point triple-double, and that was with Jarrett Allen manning the paint. Mobley has been excellent sans Allen, but frankly, Embiid shouldn’t have a problem stuffing Mobley (and most other humans) through the basket any time he wants. Maybe Ed Davis can provide some resistance? (*gulp*)
OVER THE ROOKIE WALL. Speaking of Mobley, the rook might be in the smoothest groove of his young professional life right now. He’s dominated his last five opponents and dropped his first 30-point game in Monday’s overtime win over the Clippers. Both Mobley’s offense (his shooting in particular) and the Cavs as a whole have cooled recently. Mobley’s improved scoring punch since Allen went down might be what the Cavs need to drag their offense out of the mud.
A BOOSTED BENCH. You know what else can help drag an offense from the mud? Having more than one player who can dribble. Lucky for the Cavs, Caris LeVert returned on Monday for his first game action since Feb. 15. After so many games with no one but Darius Garland to create buckets, it’s almost jarring to have someone with LeVert’s knack for scoring on the floor again. Garland has been on a tear himself, but he can’t do it all himself. For the first time in a month, there’s a chance he won’t have to.