Cleveland Cavaliers Game Previews: November 21 - November 27

Cleveland Cavaliers' game previews between November 21 and November 27, including games against the Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers, and Philadelphia 76ers.

Cleveland Cavaliers' game previews between November 21 and November 27, including games against the Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers, and Philadelphia 76ers.

The Cavaliers had an up and down week during the third week of the NBA season. They lost against the Pacers, a game they played without LeBron James. Yes, that gave them their second loss of the young season, but one positive that came out of the game was the fact that come Friday, the Cavaliers were locked in on both ends of the floor and had a swarming defense on the Pistons players for most of the night.

The Cavaliers defense looks as though it will be come-and-go throughout the majority of the regular season. Why? LeBron James and Co. realize that the regular season is largely irrelevant - as long as they can make it out of the East, that's all that they truly need to worry about. There's no need to expend a lot of energy on the defensive end of the floor, or on the offensive end for that matter. The only time the Cavaliers will begin to worry about how they're doing in the regular season will be toward the middle of March as LeBron James gears up for the playoffs, and he turns on playoff mode, both mentally and physically. 

For the most part, the Cavaliers are looking good early on in the season. They have a 1.5 game lead in the conference over Atlanta, and for those who are keeping track, they still have yet to not have 10 or more threes in a game this year; they hold the NBA record for most games to start the season making 10 or more threes in a game.

Portland Trail Blazers

Wednesday, 23 November 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Home

The Damian Lillard show rolls into Cleveland on Wednesday night. It will be a battle of explosive point guards at Quicken Loans Arena as Kyrie Irving and Lillard square off in what's sure to be an offensive tête à tête. This head-to-head matchup will pair two of the league's best three-point shooting teams against each other. The Cavaliers are on a roll from distance, they have not failed to make at least 10 treys in each of the first 12 games of the year, and the Blazers are in the top-five in attempts, makes, and percentage from distance.

Kevin Love enjoys playing against the Blazers. He's from the area, so he enjoys playing against Portland—he thankfully gets to do so twice a year. Love does not need much motivation this year as he has been as aggressive as ever in a Cleveland Uniform—he's averaging 20.3 points, and 11 rebounds a game, a marked improvement over his first two seasons as a member of the Wine and Gold. Against the Pacers last week, Love put up a 27 point, 16 rebound game in an ode to his Minnesota form. He's been putting the ball on the hardwood when he's closed out on while on the wing. This has led to him getting better looks, closer to the basket where he can initiate contact and draw fouls on opposing bigs. He's shooting 83 percent from the charity stripe this year which is helping him to bump up his scoring outputs despite not shooting the ball all that well at 43 percent.

The Blazers are hovering around .500 on the year, 8-7 through their first 15 games with Damian Lillard taking over. He is averaging nearly 29 points a game along with 4.4 assists and four rebounds. The Trailblazers have the 29th ranked defense in the association, and knowing how the Cavaliers have played at times this year, look for buckets, no pun intended, of points to be scored as the teams take each other on in what is sure to be an offensive track meet.

Dallas Mavericks

Friday, 25 November 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Home

LeBron James has not lost to the Dallas Mavericks since his infamously poor performance in the 2011 NBA Finals for the Miami Heat where he and his teammates lost to the underdog Mavs in six games. Granted, James would likely trade a regular season loss against Cuban's Mavericks in exchange for what would have been his first trophy, but what's done is done, and James just has to move on with his life, destroying the Mavericks every chance he gets.

Dirk Nowitzki, who is getting longer in the tooth with each passing year, has been battling injuries this season, his most recent one being an Achilles injury that he has been attempting to come back from for the better part of two weeks now. He's missed recent games for the Mavericks as he tries to rehab and recovery from his injury.

The Mavericks are continuing to go as Nowitzki goes, much as they have over the course of his wonderful career —the Mavericks are 2-10; they are the second slowest team in the league. They have the worst offensive rating in the league partially because of that, they are in the bottom three in the league when it comes to net rating (offensive rating - defensive rating), assist percentage, and assist to turnover ratio, and last but not least, they are not being drifted by their new max-man Harrison Barnes. 

This team is not playing well on either side of the ball, and they just look slow, old, and beaten down. This Mavericks team was good once, in the past, but that is not the present, and this team is just not built to compete right now. 

Philadelphia 76ers

Sunday, 27 November 2016 at 01:00 PM ET Away

Trust The Process.

The Process is now a proper noun in the City of Brotherly Love as Joel Embiid is adding believers and followers to his cause. The rookie phenom is averaging 18 points and 7.6 rebounds in 22 minutes a night. If you extrapolate this out to a 36-minute average, The Process is averaging 29.5 points and 12.4 boards a night. That's phenomenal for any player, let alone a rookie who had to miss his first two seasons due to injuries. 

The 76ers have the worst net rating in the league at minus 11 a night. This means that per 100 possessions they typically allow 11 more points than they score, hence their 3-10 record, but it's getting better for 76ers fans. Ben Simmons will be coming back, potentially, in January following his Jones Fracture surgery. When he returns, this team could be #LeaguePassAlert material. 

The last time that the Cavaliers played Philadelphia, they came out of the gates hot, getting up on the 76ers early, but then they took their foot off the pedal and allowed the 76ers to have a late game lead over the Cavaliers. Channing Frye buried a jumper and the Cavaliers defense held during the final possession and allowed them to hold on for the victory, but do not think the Cavaliers will repeat this. They now know that they 76ers are not to be trifled with, and they still have enough players to be dangerous when discounted.

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