Cleveland Cavaliers game previews between December 19 and December 25, including games against the Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, and a home-and-home series against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Cavaliers had a good week overall. There was never any doubt the second game against Memphis would be a loss because Big Three staying behind in order to get a night off. In the games that the Big Three did partake in, they won both of them. Kevin Love (when he did play) averaged 26 points and 16 rebounds. The often maligned member of the Cavaliers' Big Three has been having a tremendous year, calling back to the days when Love was the number one option in Minnesota. Love is averaging over 22 points a game this season and 10.7 boards a night.
The Cavaliers have been matched this season. The Cavaliers' Big Three are each averaging over 22 points a game, so it isn't James doing all the work on the offensive end of the floor. He is not leading the team in shots per game; that goes to Kyrie Irving. Kevin Love is third on the team in shots per game, but he is capitalizing on his touches, as he is putting the ball on the floor and getting to the charity stripe. He is second on the team in terms of free throw attempts per game at 6.3 a game.
Tuesday, 20 December 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Away
The Cavaliers return to the sight of one of their worst performances this season to date.
The last time the Cavaliers entered the Bradley Center, they were utterly dominated by the upstart Bucks. Buoyed by that performance, the Bucks have been rising up the ranks of the Eastern Conference standings this year, currently the fifth seed early in the season.
The one thing the Cavaliers must remember to do is to stop Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks point-forward is leading his team in all five major statistical categories this season as he is really beginning to find his groove in the NBA. His unique skillset and talents make him a difficult cover, especially in the open floor. When he is on the fast break, he frequently makes it from one end of the floor to another by only taking three to five dribbles.
The last time the Cavaliers played the Bucks they appeared largely uninterested, they played lethargically, played with poor defensive effort, so it will be interesting to see if the Cavaliers can up the defensive effort against the Bucks this time around, or if the Bucks just have the Cavaliers number in the regular season.
Wednesday, 21 December 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Home
Wednesday Night will signal the return of the Delly to The Land.
Matthew Dellevedova was the embodiment of grit and determination, during the three seasons he spent in the Wine and Gold. Understanding how fundamentally useless that series of words is in the end, it is important to note that Delly was a fan favorite. He has many memorable dustups with opponents that got the arena energized, and when he returns to the Q on Wednesday Night, he will receive his championship ring, undoubtedly to a standing ovation from the Cavalier crowd.
The Cavaliers will likely be able to feed off the energy from the crowd, allowing them to potentially play with more energy, more purpose, more passion. Don't be shocked if things potentially get chippy between Kyrie Irving and Delly during the game as when Delly was a rookie in Cleveland, the two point guards would often go hard at each other during practice as Dellevedova attempted to solidify his place in the league and on that team.
Friday, 23 December 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Home
As the parade of former Cavaliers continues this week, Anthony Bennett, Joe Harris and the Brooklyn Nets travel to the Q on Festivus this year.
The Nets will be looking to make the Cavaliers run as they lead the league in pace this season at 104+ possessions a game. They are struggling this year though as they do no have the pieces to compete, but that will not stop them from trying.
The Brooklyn Nets have much in common with the local pickup team at the YMCA — they love shooting threes and putting up the third most threes per game in the Association, but they are also the fifth worst three-point shooting team in the NBA. They love to shoot from distance, but they do not see many threes finding their way into baskets.
It is unclear if the Cavaliers will be in full force for this game as they host the Warriors on Christmas, but if so, look for the Cavaliers to use this as a tuneup game for the Christmas Day match up.
Golden State Warriors
Sunday, 25 December 2016 at 02:30 PM ET Home
Irving vs. Curry.
James vs. Durant.
Which team will show their hand?
The Warriors come into this game looking dominant. They are leading the league in all sorts of offensive categories, and dominating teams like everyone thought they would. The only problem is overall depth.
The Warriors are built to dominate. The question is if they're built to dominate the regular season or if they will prove to be all conquering in the postseason as well. The Warriors are essentially six or seven players deep. Yes, they start Pachulia. Yes, they play McGee. That is because they feel the need to play a center to match up with opponents who run a big man out on the floor. Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green, Iguodala and Livingston are their efficient role players, the rest of the roster is filler.
How does that compare to the Cavaliers? If you look at the starting five, it is one of the best, if not the best, overall starting five in the league. Irving, Smith, James, Love and Thompson. Off the bench comes Shumpert, Jefferson and Frye. One could argue that this team is legitimately eight players deep, with a regular rotation of 10 players. Overall, the Cavaliers roster is deeper.
How do their playing styles match? Well. The Cavaliers can run, have no problem doing so, they can shoot threes with the best of them, and if the game becomes a shootout, the Cavaliers have had no problem outscoring teams as they have put up 120+ on numerous occasions. Granted, the Warriors have put up 140+ against the Lakers and just put up 135 against the Blazers.
This has all the makings of the best games of the year for the Cavaliers so far, and it will be interesting to see how the dynamics between the teams will unfold. There will be no love lost between the two, and it is sure to be a chippy game. One key to watch for will be to see just how it is that Kevin Love performs against the Warriors. He did not have a good Finals after missing games due to a concussion, so it will be important for him to gain some confidence going against this team because he is truly the x-factor this year against this team.
Merry Christmas to us all.