Scouting the Cavaliers: If Irving doesn’t play, Spurs have big advantage

Tonight, two teams headed in opposite directions square off as the San Antonio Spurs (36-14) travel to Cleveland, Ohio to face the Cleveland KICavaliers. The Spurs come in with a seven-game winning streak, while the Cavaliers also have a 7-game streak, a 7-game losing streak that is.

The Spurs are coming off a fresh nine-point win over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday in which the Spurs’ offensive has found its stride as the team has scored over 100 points in its last three games.

The Cavaliers are continuing to spiral downward (Last 10 games: 1-9) after the New York Knicks defeated them over the weekend without rookie point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving may not play against the Spurs.

Case No. 51: Cleveland Cavaliers (17-33)

Home record: 9-17 – This is never a good thing when a team has more wins (12) and less losses (16) on the road, so the Spurs will arrive in Cleveland knowing it’s not the most comfortable place for the Cavs’ own team.

The King

  • Kyrie Irving (Game time decision) – 18.9 points, 4 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1 steal, 14.9 FGA (47%), 3.4 3PT FGA (42%), 4 FTA (87%)

The Knights

  • Antawn Jamison – 17.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 16.5 FGA (41%), 4.1 3PT FGA (33%), 4 FTA (67%)
  • Anderson Varejao – Out
  • Alonzo Gee – 10.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 8.5 FGA (43%)

The former Spurs guard is actually having himself quite a productive season, he’ll have to get ready to try to stop the plethora of guards the Spurs have in Danny Green (8.4 points), Manu Ginobili (12.8 points), and Gary Neal (9.6 points).

The Bishop

  • Tristan Thompson – 7.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, 6.9 FGA (43%)
  • Daniel Gibson – Out

The Pawns

  • Omri Caspi – 6.9 points, 6.2 FGA (41%)
  • Anthony Parker – 6.2 points, 6.1 FGA (39%)

Offense vs. Offense

  • 1. Points: Spurs (101.4) – Cavaliers (93.3) = Spurs
  • 2. Assists: Spurs (22.6) – Cavaliers (20) = Spurs
  • 3. Shooting percentage: Spurs (46.8%) – Cavaliers (42.3%) = Spurs
  • 4. Three point shooting percentage: Spurs (39%) – Cavaliers (35%) = Spurs
  • 5. Free throw attempts: Spurs (21.4) – Cavaliers (25.5) = Cavaliers
  • 6. Turnovers: Spurs (12.8) – Cavaliers (14.7) = Spurs

Offensive Leader: Spurs 5-1 – The numbers aren’t very telling of how bad this game could get for Cleveland if Irving doesn’t play. He’s almost worth 20 points to them every night, without him the Cavs won’t have the scorers to keep up with the high-potent offense of San Antonio.

Defense vs. Defense

  • 1. Opponent scoring: Spurs (96.5) – Cavaliers (99.2) = Spurs
  • 2. Opponent shooting: Spurs (46%) – Cavaliers (46%) = Tie
  • 3. Rebounds: Spurs (42.5) – Cavaliers (42.9) = Cavaliers
  • 4. Personal Fouls: Spurs (17.3) – Cavaliers (20.6) = Spurs

Defensive Leader: Spurs 2-1 – Every time I do a preview I’m always disappointed to see the Spurs’ defensive numbers rank so mediocre by their season average. In this interesting article by Pounding the Rock’s J.R. Wilco, you’ll understand that the mediocre defensive numbers are just a mask over the real fact that the Spurs can actually defend because of the boost of young athletic talent they’ve added to the team.

Game Expectation

As mentioned above, the Cavaliers can only keep up with the Spurs for maybe three quarters without Irving. The other night against the Knicks, the Cavs were in the game but New York was able to eventually build a big lead and win by 16-points.

The Spurs are hitting on every gear offensively and have shown their defensive ability in different quarters during their seven game winning streak.

As long as they continue to share the ball, limit their turnovers, and make Jamison and Gee work for every point, this shouldn’t be anything less of a double-digit win for San Antonio.

The Spurs should put their foot on the gas from the beginning so that if they are able to secure a huge lead, they can limit the play of the “Big Three” so they will be ready for Boston on Wednesday.

Paul Garcia

About Paul Garcia

Paul is a San Antonio Spurs credentialed media member for Project Spurs. He covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, TX and the 2013 NBA Finals.

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