Scouting the Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving will play
Offensive rating: Spurs — 106.0 (3rd), Cavs — 99.4 (24th)Defensive rating: Spurs — 101.5 (14th), Cavs — 103.8 (24th)Pace: Spurs — 94.4 (11th), Cavs — 94.6 (8th)
Cursed Cavs. After three consecutive victories over the Nuggets, Thunder and Rockets, the Cavaliers have gone 1-10. During this stretch, they have been outscored by 13.4 points per 100 possessions. Their extended losing streak has occurred despite Kyrie Irving (20.8 points, 6.6 assists) and Tristan Thompson (10.9 points, 7.1 rebounds), both five top overall picks in the 2010 Draft, growing reciprocity. It probably isn’t a good thing that they have been playing only slightly better than the abominable Charlotte Bobcats, who have been outscored by 14.6 points per 100 possessions for the entire season.
Offensive rebounds. Because of Anderson Varejao and Thompson, both excellent offensive rebounders, the Cavs are one of the best teams at creating extra opportunities for, for lack of a better phrase, a below-average offense. Their offensive rebounding (fifth ranked in the league), though, will face a huge deterrent — the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs — Tim Duncan, especially — are the No. 1 ranked defensive rebounding team. Aside from their free throw rate, Cleveland isn’t remarkable in any specific category. The Spurs ability to prevent extra possessions should help them increase their lead solely because of their superior offensive execution.
Kyrie Irving. Can you believe how good this guy is? He’s only 20 years old. Much like Kawhi Leonard — who is, coincidentally, also 20 years old — Irving hasn’t experience any semblance of a “rookie wall.” Among point guards, Irving ranks among the top 10 in PER, true shooting percentage, usage rate, 3-point percentage, field goal percentage and free throw percentage. Irving has been compared to Chris Paul, and while he doesn’t see the floor quite as well as Paul (well, who does?), he is every bit the scorer. And he does so at a remarkably efficient rate. At this current stage of his career, Irving is considerably more advanced than Derrick Rose. Scary. Even scarier? The Cavs without Irving (who is doubtful tonight with a shoulder injury). They are 1-4 and, in those four losses, have lost by an average of 13.3 points. (Editor’s update: Per Tim Griffin of Spurs Nation, Irving is expected to play tonight. Forget most of what I just wrote.
Final Verdict. Spurs by 13. The Spurs haven’t played since Saturday and the Cavs are struggling tremendously. Shouldn’t be too difficult, but I could be wrong.