After a 4th quarter comeback against the Toronto Raptors last night at the Wells Fargo Center, the Philadelphia 76ers will travel to Cleveland tonight to play the Cleveland Cavaliers.
I always get scared on the second night of a back to back, especially when traveling on the road, and even more so when the 76ers had to play Jrue Holiday 40 minutes and Thaddeus Young 39 to complete a fourth quarter comeback.
That being said, the Cleveland Cavaliers are really, really bad without Kyrie Irving on the floor.
How bad? As Conrad Kaczmarek points out in the article linked above, the Cavaliers have scored 108.3 points per 100 possessions with Kyrie on the court to only 81.6 points per 100 possessions with him off the court.
To put that in perspective, because perspective is always important, the worst offensive team in the league last season was the Bobcats, who at 95.2 points per 100 possessions far eclipsed Cleveland's production without Irving.
Yeah, the 76ers are traveling on the second half of a back-to-back. Yeah, you always have to worry about teammates rallying around their fallen superstar for a short burst of being able to overachieve.
But this team is bad without Irving. If the Sixers can bring their C game, they should be alright.
It's a shame that Irving is out, for Cavaliers fans, 76ers fans, and NBA fans in general. He is an exciting player to watch, and I was hoping to see how the follow-up to their matchup 3 nights ago. Playing so close together, watching the chess match to how the two adjusted to each other in such a short span would have been interesting. It was almost like a playoff atmosphere in that regard. Jrue was absolutely superb defensively against Kyrie earlier this week in what, in my opinion, may have been his best game of the season despite shooting 6-14.
What to watch for:
With Kyrie Irving not playing, that removes by far their best pick and roll ball handler, something that could have caused the 76ers problems. You'll likely see a lot of Dion Waiters, but Jrue Holiday should be well equipped to handle Waiters isolation game. That being said, Waiters has been shooting the heck out of the ball this year, but with Irving gone he should be forced out of spot-up catch and shoots (which he has been tremendous at) and into more pick and rolls and isolations (where he has had less success).
November 18th, 2012 (Sixers win 86-79)
This one could be sloppy, but I think the Sixers pull it out.
76ers 87, Cavs 75
Game thread will be up at 6.