The battle of budding superstar guards
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (24-18) vs. San Antonio Spurs (15-26)
Where: AT&T Center
When: 8:30 p.m.
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass, Bally Sports App
Spread: Cavs – 3.5
Opposing blog: Pounding The Rock
Expected Cavs starting lineup: Darius Garland / Lamar Stevens / Lauri Markkanen / Evan Mobley / Jarrett Allen
Cavs injury report: Isaac Okoro (QUESTIONABLE – left elbow sprain), Rajon Rondo (QUESTIONABLE – right hamstring soreness), Ricky Rubio (OUT – ACL), Collin Sexton (OUT – meniscus)
Expected Spurs starting lineup: Dejounte Murray / Lonnie Walker / Joshua Primo / Keita Bates-Diop / Jakob Poeltl
Spurs injury report: Zach Collins (OUT – left ankle), Drew Eubanks (PROBABLE – stomach illness), Tre Jones (OUT – health and safety), Derrick White (Questionable – health and safety), Devontae Cacok (OUT – G League), Joe Wieskamp (G League)
Three things to watch
Dejounte Murray is good even though the Spurs aren’t. The Spurs are finally in full rebuild mode after trying to stave off the inevitable the last few years. They have lost 9 of their last 10 games which included losses to the Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets.
Murray has been one of the only bright spots in San Antonio this season. The fourth year guard is averaging 18.8 points, 8.9 assists and 8.2 rebounds with a 48.3 effective field goal percentage on the season.
He [Murray] just continues to get better and better. It’s almost a bummer that we’re wasting a season like this on one of our rebuild years. I know that’s not a healthy way to look at things and that it all sort of comes out in the wash somewhere, but he’s such a competitor that you know it just kills him to drop games like this. Every time I watch him right now I just want to pull him aside and apologize for all the mess.
You can read the full article here.
Lamar Stevens’s push for a spot in the rotation. Stevens is coming off of a career night in Utah. He poured in 23 points on 10 of 15 shooting which included 14 straight Cavalier points to start the second half. That was the third time in his last six games that he’s scored 15 or more points and is averaging 10.6 points, 3.8 boards and a steal since stepping into the starting lineup for Okoro.
Stevens place in the rotation is murky when Okoro returns. The Cavs need shooting and ball handling off the bench and Stevens isn’t the guy you’d look to for either of those. However, I do believe he’s done enough to deserve some spot duty with the second unit given how well he’s played over the last handful of games.
The Cavs intensity against a bad team. The Cavs have beat up on bad teams for most of the season. They are 6-1 against teams 24th through 30th in the overall standings and have a net rating of 12.2 in those games. The Spurs are slightly out of that category as they are 23rd in the standings, but they are currently playing like one of the worst teams in the league.
Despite the impressive record and net rating, the Cavs have made things closer than they needed to be against bad teams recently. They barely skated past the Indiana Pacers with a narrow 108-104 win on January 2nd. The Sacramento Kings had a chance to beat them on the last possession Monday. Both games could’ve easily turned into losses.
Are the Cavs going to come out with the intensity they had against the Utah Jazz and try to put this game away early? Or is this going to be more like the game against the Kings where this remains a close game throughout that either side has a chance to win? We’ll have to wait and see.