Since their last meeting with the Spurs, the Cavaliers have continued to be the surprise team of the NBA this season in more ways than one. At 33-21, not only is Cleveland already 6 wins over the 27.5 wins that Vegas projected before the start of the season, they also find themselves just a game back in the loss column for the #1 seed in the entire Eastern Conference. They’ve done this behind a stifling defense aimed at walling off the paint and a move-the-ball offense that, while not otherworldly, is more than capable of putting points on the board.
That Cleveland is doing all this with a roster largely devoid of veteran talent is a testament to the culture that general manager Koby Altman, head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and their staff are building in this second chance at a post-Lebron future. Kevin Love, Ed Davis, and Rajon Rondo are the only players currently on the roster with more than 5 year’s worth of NBA playing experience, the rest of the roster beinf flush with young, hungry talent that seems to be getting better by the day. Their recent acquisition of Caris LeVert from the Indiana Pacers gives them another scoring threat on the wings to pair alongside 3rd year guard Darius Garland, who was named to his first All Star team as a reserve last week.
The Spurs, meanwhile, come into tonight’s game with a first-time All Star of their own, as Dejounte Murray was recently named a replacement for the game. Gregg Popovich’s group has also had 5 days off since blowing out the Rockets last Friday night and should be itching to get back to action tonight. They’ll look to avoid a collapse like the one they suffered when these teams met a few weeks ago. That game ended with Cleveland holding the Spurs scoreless for a lengthy stretch that coincided with the end of the game.
San Antonio Spurs (20-34) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (33-21)
February 9, 2022 | 6:30 PM CT
Watch: Bally Sports Southwest | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Lonnie Walker IV (day to day - knee), Tre Jones (day to day)
Cavaliers Injuries: Collin Sexton (OUT- knee), Lauri Markkanen (Day to day - ankle), Darius Garland (day to day - back)
What to watch for
- The two new All Stars, Dejounte Murray and Darius Garland, put on a show the last time these two clubs met, with Murray’s 30/14/8 ultimately not being enough to pull San Antonio across the finish line with a W. If Garland, currently dealing with a back ailment, is able to play, there could be yet another duel on display between these two young guards.
- It’s good to see Kevin Love playing a key-role on a playoff contender. Love, who for awhile looked as though injuries could derail the latter years of his basketball career, has missed just 9 contests so far this year and has made a seamless transition into the role of bench sniper for the Cavaliers (39% from 3, leads team). Love’s averages of nearly 15 and 8 in just 22 minutes a night, combined with the Cavaliers success to this point has made him a viable candidate for the 6MOY award.
- The Cavaliers might also have the Rookie of the Year on their roster in big man Evan Mobley. The 7 footer is leading all rookies in blocks on the season with 77 rejections and has all the makings of an elite defensive player. It is the pairing of Mobley with fellow big Jarrett Allen in the front court that has Cleveland sitting at 3rd in Defensive Rating this season behind only the Warriors and the Suns.
For the Cavalier fan’s perspective, please visit Fear the Sword.
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