Game Thread | 2021-2022 Season | Game #43 | Cavs @ Spurs | Jan. 14, 2022 | 8:30 p.m.

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Wham with the Right Hand

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After a 20-point win over the shorthanded Jazz the Cavs mess with Texas and take on the San Antonio Spurs for the first time this season. The Spurs are 15-26 overall and 7-11 at home. They have lost four in a row and 8 of 10. Both teams played Wednesday. It’s a hot team against a cold one.

This is the first Cavs game in what seems like a long time where neither team has a significant player out with COVID. I hope it means the league has turned the corner and the days of eight players being out and G-Leaguers in the starting lineup are over. However, one of the Spurs’ bench players, Tre Jones, tested positive yesterday and there are still eight hours to tip-off, so who knows. Five more of them could test positive today. Just a wacky, unpredictable season.

The Spurs have an excellent offense, ranking 9th in scoring at nearly 111 points per game. But at home they are even better, averaging 115.6 points on 48% from the field and 37.2% on 3’s. That 115.6 number would lead the league if they did that well on the road.

So the Cavs, who rank 2nd in scoring defense, have their work cut out for them when the Spurs have the ball.

PG Dejounte Murray is averaging 18.8 pts, 8.2 rebounds, and 8.9 assists per game. The former 29th pick gets better every year. Last year he was at 15.7 pts and 5.4 assists. He’s playing at an All-Star level for sure. He’s not particularly efficient, ranking in the 30th percentile among point guards in points per shot attempt, but he’s an excellent passer with a high assist and low turnover rate. He currently ranks 4th in the league in assists. On Wednesday he had a line of 32/10/11 but the Spurs still lost to Houston 128-124.

SF Keldon Johnson averages 14.8 points and is hitting 44.3% of his 3’s. He only takes 3.5 threes per game but he knocks them down. Last year Johnson had a game in Cleveland where he scored 23 points and had 21 rebounds. He was a monster on the glass with 11 offensive rebounds. He was an unstoppable force that night at 6’6”, 220, and the main reason the Spurs won by 6.

However, the Cavs’ forwards were Okoro and Nance with Wade, Cedi, and Stevens off the bench. Tonight the Cavs will be bigger up front. He won’t get 21 boards tonight.

By the way, Lamar Stevens had 15 points and 11 rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench in that game.

The Spurs feature balanced scoring with seven players averaging between 11-19 points per game and Bryn Forbes averaging 8.9 off the bench. The Spurs lead the NBA in shots attempted per game and are second in assists per possession. They’re 8th in fast break points. I’m envisioning a team that plays at a fast pace, fast breaks at every opportunity, swings it around and gets the shots off quickly. The Cavs need to get back in transition.

One thing the Spurs are not is a 3-point team. They rank last in 3-point rate and 29th in percentage of points from 3’s. They’re a little above average in percentage made; they just don’t shoot many.

They are 2nd in points in the paint per game, so they love to take it inside. This should be a nice matchup against the Cavs’ bigs in the paint. Surprisingly they don’t draw fouls, ranking last in free throws per offensive play. Most teams that score a lot in the paint draw more fouls while the high volume 3-point teams draw fewer fouls. The Spurs are an anomaly, ranking 2nd in points in the paint but last in free throws attempted. I can’t explain it.

They are only 19th in effective field goal percentage but 9th in points. I attribute that to their high pace; they take more shots than anybody. They are 12th in offensive rebound percentage so they get more second chances than average. They are also 4th in turnovers per play which also helps them get more shots up.

With Mobley and Allen the Cavs should do well against a team that depends on scoring in close. Should be a favorable matchup. It will also be a lot different from the last game. Utah shoots more 3’s than anybody and are near the bottom in assists while the Spurs are the opposite.

Defensively the Spurs are 24th in opponents’ points per game. They’re 23rd in defensive rebounding so the Cavs need to take advantage and get put-backs. The Spurs don’t foul, ranking 2nd fewest in fouls. They’re above average in block percentage and steals. In terms of effective field goal percentage they’re 23rd and that’s about where they rank defending both 2- and 3-point shots.

None of the defensive numbers jump out at me. They are just a below average defensive team that rarely fouls but doesn’t force many misses compared to other teams.

It seems like being 9th in scoring and 24th in preventing scoring the Spurs would be about an average team. But they’re 15-26. Their strength of schedule has been average. Seems like their record should be better.

This is the first of a back-to-back with the Cavs playing at OKC tomorrow night.
 

PIP

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I give it 4 minutes of game time for the first "Pop is just outcoaching JBB, who saw that coming" post to show it's face.
I saw it with Rick Carlisle and Nate McMillian like before the first timeout… And people actually believed it..
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Wham with the Right Hand

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From SBNation's game preview:

The matchup between Darius Garland and Dejounte Murray: One of the biggest surprises this season has been third-year point guard Darius Garland. After two so-so seasons in Cleveland, the former fifth overall pick has put together a strong campaign that’s bordering on All-Star consideration. His growth has been noticeable, and you could say the same thing about San Antonio’s resident floor general Dejounte Murray. The Washington alumnus has always been known for his defensive prowess, but he has significantly expanded his offensive repertoire this season, improving as a passer and finisher around the rim while steadily becoming one of the best two-way guards in the association. Both players are ascending talents at their respective positions, and their head-to-head matchup on Friday night will be something to keep an eye on.

To make matters more tricky, San Antonio has questionable depth behind Jakob Poeltl, with Drew Eubanks possibly out (and having lost his rotation spot anyways) and Jock Landale still figuring his role in the NBA. In addition, the Spurs give up a 27.3% offensive rebounding percentage, which is an issue that could amplify when facing the dynamic Wine and Gold frontcourt. It’ll be worth keeping a close eye on how the Spurs fare against one of the best big-men tandems in the league.

 

Alec

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They are starting to understand… when you play hard, good things happen!

They are starting to understand… when you move the ball, the ball goes in!

They are starting to understand… good teams in this league can shoot the ball!

They are starting to understand… trusting each other, is better than not trusting each other!

They are starting to understand… The incoherent ramblings of an old man, are worth their weight in lead, worthless!
 

SVC

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I bet a decent amount of $ on us -3.5. Wish I would have jumped on open of -2 but don’t trust anything until injury reports come out. Felt like I was missing something. This seems to be a good matchup for us. Expected it to be like -6. Feel like I’m falling into a trap, but I’ve felt that way several times this year and we’ve won most of those handily. Hopefully that trend continues.
 

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