Cavaliers (41-25) @ Spurs (40-23)

After coming off one of their most complete performances in years, the Cavaliers look to continue their streak heading into San Antonio on Thursday. Known to some as a preview of the NBA Finals, Thursday’s game could very well live up to that hype. Cleveland has recovered well from the loss in Atlanta last weekend. Many thought that the loss sent the Cavaliers back to reality, but it seems it just spurred the Cavaliers to torch the rest of the NBA during the latter part of the season. After last night, the Cavaliers remain 7-3 in their last 10 games. Many believe right now that the team has made extreme strides in terms of team chemistry as seen below. This time around against the Spurs will be much different considering that the Cavaliers were without Mozgov, Shumpert, and Smith last time they played each other. The last time the Cavaliers faced off against the Spurs, the game ended with LeBron James trying to dribble through traffic and losing the ball. This will be the final meeting between the Cavaliers and Spurs in the regular season.

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Meanwhile on the opponent’s side, San Antonio’s position in the West has been questioned by some considering the defending NBA champions are currently in the 6th seed in the Western Conference. The Spurs’ star point guard Tony Parker has been plagued by injuries throughout the season and only now is showing signs of being injury free, with great games against Chicago and Toronto indicating that he is officially back and ready for April/May/June. With Parker back and Kawhi back, the Spurs are back to playing “San Antonio Spurs basketball”. The Spurs are 6-4 in their last 10, and only look to get better as we get closer to mid-April. The Spurs operate best when healthy, but the Spurs are no stranger to having the theme of “Next Guy In Line”. The Spurs have had nobodies turn into somebodies. Look for the Spurs to start their ritual of resting players towards the end of the season. Also look for SAS coach Gregg Popovich to sit his starters if the game goes to an extreme in terms of losing or winning. If it is close, expect to see the Spurs put up a fight throughout the entire game and play their starters until the end.

Here are some things you need to know before watching:

Cleveland Cavaliers at San Antonio Spurs – AT&T Center

Game start: 9:30 P.M. EST.  National TV- TNT

Projected Starting Lineups

Cavaliers:

PG: Kyrie Irving: 21.4 PPG, 5.2 APG, 3.2 RPG, 46.6 % FG

SG: J.R. Smith: 12.6 PPG, 2.6 APG, 3.7 RPG, 41.5 % FG

SF: LeBron James: 26.0 PPG, 7.3 APG, 5.8 RPG, 49.1 % FG

PF: Kevin Love: 17.0 PPG, 2.3 APG, 10.2 RPG, 43.3 % FG

C: Timofey Mozgov: 10.7 PPG, 0.7 APG, 7.4 RPG, 59.3 % FG

Spurs:

PG: Tony Parker: 14.7 PPG, 4.9 APG, 1.9 RPG, 47.1 % FG

SG: Danny Green: 11.8 PPG, 1.8 APG, 4.5 RPG, 43.0 % FG

SF: Kawhi Leonard: 15.7 PPG, 2.4 APG, 7.5 RPG, 45.6 % FG

PF: Tim Duncan: 14.1 PPG, 2.8 APG, 9.6 RPG, 49.2 % FG

C: Tiago Splitter: 7.2 PPG, 1.5 APG, 4.5 RPG, 52.6 % FG

Matchup to Watch For:

While many believe that Tim Duncan is like a bottled wine, only getting better with age, he looks to be truly challenged by a red hot Kevin Love. Love, who struggled at the beginning of the season including the first game against the Spurs, has turned up the intensity and scoring in the past couple games. Love has started to hit open threes and is one of the main reasons why the Cavaliers get out to such early leads on teams. Duncan on the other hand, shows no signs of slowing up besides the occasional DNP due to rest. Duncan is once again one of the best power forwards in the NBA, posting 14 PPG and almost 10 RPG. Duncan and Love look to be a good matchup, and this could possibly be one of the last times that the Love-Duncan matchup could happen. It’s almost as if Duncan is passing the torch to Love. Although Love scores more and much more athletic, his play and hustle mirrors Tim Duncan. Duncan looks to maybe play one more season, and I don’t see him playing into his forties. Look for a grind it out effort for Love and Duncan.

Injury Report:

Cavaliers:

  • Anderson Varejao: Season.
  • Shawn Marion: Out Indefinitely.

Spurs:

  • Manu Ginobili: Day to Day.
  • Tim Duncan: Day to Day.

Game Notes:

  • 2nd game between SA and CLE this year.
  • Final game of regular season series.
  • Spurs 6-4 in last 10.
  • Cavaliers 7-3 in last 10.
  • Manu Ginobili expected to suit up after resting.
  • Shawn Marion “making strides in rehab”.

 

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