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Sixers vs. Cavaliers Preview: River's On Fire

The Sixers have been inconsistent of late, and now they have to face a particular challenge: the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBro--what? Oh, my bad...that's awkward.

You goin' to the game, Kyrie? Which way is the stadium?
You goin' to the game, Kyrie? Which way is the stadium?

By the time 6 p.m. comes around, you're probably going to be pretty cheesed off about the Eagles, but fear not! More sports are on the way.

Tonight, the Sixers welcome the pride of Northern Ohio, the Cavaliers of Cleveland, to the Wells Fargo Center this evening. The Cavs, who have been something of a moribund franchise these past few years, for obvious reasons, but things are starting to look up. For instance, if you look up from Cleveland, you can see three other teams in the Central Division standings. It should be four, but the Pistons are even more moribund (more-ibund?) than the Cavs, having failed to beat every team they've faced this season, except the Sixers, as it turned out.

Okay, that's enough trolling for now. The focus of this game will most likely be on two key matchups. First, and perhaps most importantly, is whether Andrew Bynum's periodically ludicrous hair is more ridiculous than Anderson Varejao's consistently ludicrous hair. The second is between two of the NBA's most exciting up-and-coming point guards: Jrue Holiday and Kyrie Irving, both of whom are enjoying breakout seasons and both of whom are cutting ruts to the basket at the price of more turnovers than their coaches would probably like to see. Nevertheless, Irving is leading the team in points and assists and is second on the team behind Varejao in PER and efficiency rating.

This might look like an easy win for the Sixers, but all joking aside, Varejao stands to pose problems for a Sixers frontcourt that, in Bynum's absence (I feel like we're going to say this a lot this season) has risen and fallen with the tide of Lavoy Allen. Over the past decade, Varejao has cultivated a reputation for crashing the boards in a kind of perpetual berserker rage, this season collecting a total rebound rate of 21.7, good for fifth in the NBA. Look for Spencer Hawes to not so much "box him out" in the post as study him with a kind of frightened curiosity, trying to grok him, the way Ian Holm studied the facehugger in Alien.

In spite of the contributions of Varejao and Irving, however, the Cavs rank dead last in the NBA in defensive efficiency. And on the offensive end, well, they're better than the Sixers, but not by much, at only 23rd in the NBA. So like I said, all signs seem to point to a Sixers win, but this team just made Kyle Singler look like James Worthy last week, so I'm not really sure what to believe anymore.


  • Kyrie Irving is the star of Pepsi MAX's excellent Uncle Drew commercials, which you've probably seen, but if you haven't, it's awesome. Probably my favorite basketball-related commercial since the Nike Freestyle commercials from a few years back. When I was a kid, I spent an entire summer trying to do that "bounce the ball up and have it land on your back" move at about 1:25 in that video. I wasn't very good at basketball.
  • Perhaps in honor of the latest news about Andrew Bynum, the Sixers play a team from Ohio. Why is this important? Because Bowling Green State University is in Ohio.
  • Interested in the Cleveland perspective on the game? Check it out at Fear The Sword.
  • Beer recommendation: Anything from Cleveland's excellent Great Lakes Brewery. Their beers are given names relevant to Great Lakes events, and their Edmund Fitzgerald Porter would be a favorite of mine even if the name didn't give cause to sing Gordon Lightfoot.
  • Considering attending in person? Purchase your tickets through TiqIQ. Because I told you to.

Stay with Liberty Ballers for continued game coverage this evening.

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