With only 17 games remaining in the regular season, each outing is important for the Cavs. Playoff seeding is up for grabs, and the Cavs are locked in a tight race for the #2 seed with the Bulls and Raptors. Last time Cleveland went on a major road trip, then struggled at the start before defeating both LA teams in what would be the start of a great run for the Cavs. The most favorable path for Cleveland to get to the Finals will come through the highest seed possible, and the upcoming four-game road trip will make a huge difference in where the Cavs end up. Here is an inside look at the upcoming road trip for the Cavs, starting with their first stop in Dallas:
Cleveland Cavaliers (40-25) @ Dallas Mavericks (41-24)
Points Per Game:
PG – Irving 21.4 – Rondo 8.9
SG – Smith 11.7 – Ellis 19.2
SF – James 26.0 – Parsons 15.3
PF – Love 16.9 – Nowitzki 17.3
C – Mozgov 9.4 – Chandler 10.4
The Cavaliers start their road trip with a matchup against the Dallas Mavericks, who come into this game losers of four of their last six, and only having one day of rest after a tough three game road trip. Dallas is very well-coached, in spite of the recent dust up between head coach Rick Carlisle and starting point guard Rajon Rondo, but the Cavs should match up well with their starting five. Specifically, Kevin Love will be guarded by the notoriously non-physical Dirk Nowitzki, and with Chandler Parsons back from injury, it provides a decided advantage for LeBron James on the offensive end. The backcourt Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith will have a tough test on their hands staying in front of Rondo and Monta Ellis. The good news for them is that the Mavs backcourt is not very big or known for their defense. Factor that in with the fact that Rondo is not a threat to shoot from deep or even mid-range, they can switch that matchup and not be at a disadvantage.
Prediction: Cavaliers defeat Mavericks win 101-90.
Click “Next” to see the second stop on the Cavs’ four-game road trip!
Cleveland Cavaliers (40-25) @ San Antonio Spurs (39-23)
Points Per Game:
PG – Irving 21.4 – Parker 14.5
SG – Smith 11.7 – Green 11.7
SF – James 26.0 – Leonard 15.5
PF – Love 16.9 – Duncan 14.2
C – Mozgov 9.4 – Splitter 7.2
Following the Mavs, Cleveland gets a day off as they travel to face the defending NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs have won their last five games, and most recently defeated the Chicago Bulls in a game that gave the Cavs sole possession of the #2 seed in the East. Tim Duncan, for the first time in his career, did not make a shot from the field, but thanks to the revived play of Tony Parker, the Spurs won without much threat from the Bulls. This one will be a tough test for the Cavs, who have struggled to maintain focus on the defensive end for the full 48 minutes. The Spurs are rounding into championship form at the right time, as they usually do, and will challenge the Cavs to cover the entire court defensively. This will be LeBron’s first trip back to San Antonio since watching the Spurs win the championship last year, and the first time he has seen them since he dribbled away a chance at a game-winner the first time these two teams met this year.
Prediction: Spurs defeat Cavaliers 105-96.
Click “Next” to see the third stop on the Cavs’ four-game road trip!
Cleveland Cavaliers (40-25) @ Orlando Magic (21-43)
Points Per Game:
PG – Irving 21.4 – Payton 7.9
SG – Smith 11.7 – Oladipo 17.5
SF – James 26.0 – Harris 16.9
PF – Love 16.9 – Frye 7.8
C – Mozgov 9.4 – Vucevic 19.7
If the Cavs are to finish with the #2 seed in the east, games like this one are a must-win. The Magic have lost their head coach, and are fighting for draft day seeding rather than playoff seeding. The test for the Cavs will be to avoid playing down to their competition and show the killer instinct that is required for championship caliber teams. The Magic are young and athletic, but are among the worst in the league in defense and rebounding. A game like this is a good chance for our frontline to lead the charge and build a big lead early. Hopefully that means our starters can get some rest in the fourth quarter because we play a desperate Miami Heat team the following night.
Prediction: Cavaliers defeat Magic win 107-91.
Click “Next” to see the last stop on the Cavs’ four-game road trip!
Cleveland Cavaliers (40-25) @ Miami Heat (28-35)
Points Per Game:
PG – Irving 21.4 – Dragic 16.2
SG – Smith 11.7 – Wade 20.9
SF – James 26.0 – Deng 14.6
PF – Love 16.9 – Haslem 3.6
C – Mozgov 9.4 – Whiteside 11.0
In the second night of a back-to-back, the Cavs finish their road trip in Miami. Miami is battling for either the #7 or #8 seed in the playoffs, and if they don’t take care of business in their building, could possibly see themselves watching the postseason from home. The Cavs will need to keep Goran Dragic out of the paint as much as possible, and make the Heat play up-tempo basketball. Cleveland has better athletes, shooters, and overall size. All of those strengths can be exposed in the open court against heavy-legged players like Hassan Whiteside, Udonis Haslem and even Dwyane Wade. Hopefully the Cavs have the energy to turn this one into a track meet and blow by the Heat in what could be a preview of the first round of the playoffs.
Prediction: Cavaliers defeat Heat win 100-88.