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Game Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers at San Antonio Spurs

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In a matchup that may foreshadow the 2016 NBA Finals, the red-hot Spurs look to extend their regular season home streak to 32 wins against the equally conflagrant Cavs.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers @ San Antonio Spurs

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
January 14, 2016, 7:00 p.m. Spurs Time
TV: TNT - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

Perhaps for the first time since his late-teens, LeBron James is no longer the brightest and gaudiest star in the basketball constellation. Far from it, in fact. But can anyone blame fans for letting their attention be pulled in other directions? Kobe is retiring. Paul George has revitalized his career. The Spurs (and some team in California [...that just lost to the Denver Nuggets]) are in hot pursuit of every record ever set in professional basketball. Because of all of these exciting storylines, Cleveland has been flying under the radar this season for the most part.

Now don't let the media near-blackout fool you - the Cavs are one of the league's finest teams. The Spurs are one of two teams in the top four in both offensive and defensive ratings. The other? You guessed it, it's the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland boasts the third best record in the league, despite the fact that their second best player sat out the first 26 games with an injury.

Oh, and let's talk about this second best player of theirs.

Kyrie Irving has sparked a Cavalier offense that was in dire need of some oomph. LeBron's usage rate has plummeted since Irving's return, a positive long-term trend that has also led to a hyper-efficient offense. With Kyrie, the Cavs are 9-1 and are starting to blow out teams with Spursy margins. By this measure, Kyrie Irving must be pretty darn good...

But I shouldn't need to remind you of that. In case you've suppressed the memory (as I have tried to), the Spurs' last regular season home loss was an overtime thriller against these same Cavaliers. LeBron was LeBron-ing and Kyrie Uncle-Drew-ed/supernova-ed his way to a Curry-esque 1,043,745 points on 32 attempts [Ed Note: estimated totals]. There were herculean efforts from both sides, which was to be expected when two of the league's best teams meet.

There aren't many people who still doubt the Spurs, but those that do, do so because they question the level of their competition. And it's a fair criticism - San Antonio's opponents' winning percentage is the lowest in the league. This game will be the Spurs' biggest test to date, and I'm expecting an intense playoff-like atmosphere, which will manifest itself principally through each team's MVP candidate.

Matchup to watch: Leonard vs. LeBron. I have to admit that I'm a little biased, but I don't think you will see s a more exciting one-on-one matchup than these two. Kawhi has traditionally given LeBron a tough time (or as tough a time as you can give LeBron James). These two are the focal points of their rosters, so I'd expect the winner of this matchup to lead his team to victory.

@

Cleveland Cavaliers

(Record: 27-9)

San Antonio Spurs

(Record: 34-6)

January 14, 2016

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

7:00 PM CDT

TV: TNT

Starters

Kyrie Irving

PG

Tony Parker

J.R. Smith

SG

Danny Green

LeBron James

SF

Kawhi Leonard

Kevin Love

PF

LaMarcus Aldridge

Tristan Thompson

C

Tim Duncan

Game prediction: Spurs by 4.

For the Cavalier's perspective, visit Fear the Sword.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher.