(Cleveland,OH) — It’s been an obscure start for the Cleveland Cavaliers (2-3). After splitting their first road trip of the year, the Cavs will return to Quicken Loans Arena to take on Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans (3-2).
After a buzzer beating loss in Utah, Cleveland was able to put together their most complete game of the young season against the Denver Nuggets. Tying a franchise low six assists in the Jazz game, LeBron James bounced back with 11 assists himself in Denver. Kyrie Irving had six following his notorious zero assist game two nights prior.
Davis and the Pelicans will also be looking to build off their latest victory. Saturday night in San Antonio the seven footer hit a driving layup to clinch the 100-99 win for his Pelicans against the defending champion San Antonio Spurs.
It hasn’t been pretty for the Wine and Gold after five games. The Cavs are 29th in opponent’s field goal percentage (49.0%), 28th in blocked shots (3.2 blocks per game) and dead last in assists (17.8).
After reports of a LeBron and Kyrie confrontation following the loss in Portland last week, James was quick to extinguish that rumor.
“We’re simply trying to get on the same page,” James told reporters. “We’re two dynamic players and it’s coming along well, I believe.”
Road trips out west are notoriously tough, as the Cavs and Head Coach David Blatt quickly found out. There are nine teams with winning records out west, only five here in the Eastern Conference.
“It was a tough trip physically. It was a tough trip competitively,” stated Blatt after practice Sunday afternoon. “It made us kinda dig deep to pull ourselves up, and I thought we did that in our last game, which is a good thing.”
While many questioned whether or not Cleveland would be able to defend the paint, the Cavs-in comparison to the rest of the NBA-haven’t done that bad so far. They’re giving up just 39.2 points per game in the paint, ranking tenth amongst the 30 teams in the NBA.
“For minutes of those last two games, we played defensively the way that we want to, and the way that we need to. It’s about now being consistent, and being focused at all times at that end of the floor,” Blatt went on. “You can now and again rest a little on offense, but you cannot afford to rest on defense. Not in this league.”
The pinnacle of defense may be playing for New Orleans. An early MVP candidate, the Pelicans’ Davis leads the league in blocked shots (4.4), rebounds (12.8) and is fifth in scoring (24.4). The center with a seven-foot-five-inch wingspan will certainly be a giant factor in tonight’s game.
It will be just the second home game for the Cavs, and they’ll look to bounce back after that embarrassing loss to New York in Cleveland’s season opener over a week ago.