clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What to watch for in Cleveland Cavaliers at San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio Spurs v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/NBAE via Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers (30-16) will square off against the San Antonio Spurs (10-39) in the Lone Star State as they continue their Western Conference swing. The Cavs are coming off a rock-fight victory against the Memphis Grizzlies, outscoring them by 14 points in the second half. Cleveland will look to keep their winning ways going against a bad Spurs team, though it was a close 117-115 game last time out with the Cavs securing the victory.

Cleveland Cavaliers at San Antonio Spurs

Where: Frost Bank Center - San Antonio, Texas

When: 8:30 pm EST

TV: Bally Sports Ohio

Spread: CLE -10

Expected Cavs Starting Lineup: Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen

Cavs Injury Report: Tristan Thompson (suspension, OUT), Ty Jerome (OUT, ankle), Isaiah Mobley (G League, OUT), Emoni Bates (G League, OUT)

Expected Spurs Starting Lineup: Tre Jones, Devin Vassell, Justin Champagnie, Jeremy Sochan, Victor Wembanyama

Spurs Injury Report:

What to watch for: short on bigs

The Cavs could be short on competent bigs with the suspension slapped on Tristan Thompson, Damian Jones’ ineffectiveness, and Jarrett Allen’s ankle injury against Memphis. That does not bode well for a team preparing to face Victor Wembanyama.

The good news is that, unlike the last time these two teams faced each other, Cleveland will have Evan Mobley healthy and available. That would be an intriguing matchup if it comes to that, as Wembanyama is a dynamic big like never seen before and Mobley is one of the best defensive players in the league. This of course is only a big deal if Allen is unable to play, though even if he can, the ankle injury could hamper him. Remember, Allen had an ankle injury that kept him out at the beginning of the season. Dean Wade may have his number called as well, considering he's been one of the best wing defenders over the last month plus.

Allen had 29 points and 16 rebounds the last time he played against Wembanyama, including this emphatic block on the Frenchman.

What to watch for: getting Garland up to speed

Darius Garland made his return to the lineup against the Detroit Pistons and generally looked good. He was able to get into flow on a few three-point attempts in his brief 20 minutes of court time, an encouraging sign. But Garland followed that up with a clunker against the Memphis Grizzlies, turning the ball over three times in 11 minutes and only attempting one three-pointer. Memphis was essentially running a G League team out there while having only one player from their original starting lineup (Jaren Jackson Jr.) playing. Garland still struggled mightily, a discouraging sign.

Perhaps most discouring is that the issues before his injury remained on full display. Garland turned the ball over three times in the first half, which has been a problem all season. His turnover rate of 16.2% is just one-tenth of a percentage worse than his rookie year and in the fifth percentile per Cleaning the Glass. The only guards worse are rookie Scoot Henderson and walking enigma Ben Simmons. Garland's only attempting one three-pointer in the first half is still troubling as well. The Cavs needed him to take more threes all of last season and now he is attempting even less of them this season. Hopefully, it's a comfort level thing, and as he gets into game shape and mindset things will change. He started off the second half with a quick three off a good action:

The Cavs have had to labor in the two games that Garland has played since returning, barely beating the Pistons (the worst team in the league) and the Grizzlies (the most injured team in the league). Garland will have another good opportunity to get his footing underneath him against the bad Spurs. San Antonio doesn't allow a ton of threes (11th fewest), but they do allow a lot of them to fall (third worst).

One stat to watch for: picked off

The Spurs have turned the ball over a ton this season, more than 14 times per game. That is third-most in the league. Meanwhile, the Cavs force the fifth-most turnovers in the league. San Antonio has improved their point guard play with Tre Jones taking over those duties, but the Cavs should still have plenty of opportunities for transition buckets and numbers advantages.