It’s an inter-conference clash between a division leader and a doormat in Bluff City. The Cleveland Cavaliers are on the road as they make the trip to face the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night. Cleveland was at home Thursday night as they hosted the Wizards in a battle of division leaders. Memphis lost their seventh straight with a 121-114 home loss to the Thunder last Wednesday. The Cavaliers hold a 27-15 edge in the all-time regular season series between the teams, including a 116-111 home win in the first matchup this season on December 2, 2017.
Cleveland Cavaliers Go for Season Sweep to Close Back to Back
Cleveland was in action at home Thursday night as they came out of the All-Star break with a contest against the Wizards. The Cavaliers entered that game 7-3 in their last 10 games and winners of four straight, including a 120-112 win on the road over Oklahoma City their last time out. Cleveland is third in the Eastern Conference, 6.5 games behind the Raptors for the top spot. The Cavaliers are two games ahead of Indiana in the Central Division and 6.5 games ahead of the ninth-place Pistons to maintain a playoff spot. Cleveland is 14-15 on the road and 9-10 against the Western Conference so far this season.
The Cavaliers are 5th in the league in scoring this season with 110.2 points per game. Cleveland is 23rd in rebounding with 41.7 caroms a night while the team stands 7th with 23.6 assists per contest. The Cavaliers are below average defensively, ranking 27th in scoring defense by allowing 110 points per game. LeBron James averages a team-high 26.5 points while collecting 8.1 boards and dishing 8.9 assists per game while Kevin Love is good for 17.9 points plus 9.4 boards per contest but is out after he fractured his hand in the first quarter of the game against the Pistons on January 30. Jeff Green averages 10.7 points per contest while Jordan Clarkson (14.6 points) will slot into a backcourt role. J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver (9.4 points), George Hill, Rodney Hood (16.7 points), Larry Nance Jr. and Tristan Thompson are some of the rotation guys that can step up and have a big game. Cleveland is 6th in the league by shooting 47.5 percent from the field. The Cavaliers are 2nd in the league in made threes with 12.2 triples a night while ranking tied for 7th in three point shooting by shooting 37 percent from downtown.
Memphis Grizzlies Look to Stop Recent Slump
Memphis has dropped seven straight and nine of their last 10 games as they have fallen apart again. The Grizzlies battled but came up empty against the Thunder in their final game before the break. Memphis comes into the second half of the season 12th in the West, 12.5 games behind the Pelicans for the final playoff spot. The Grizzlies trailed by one after the opening quarter only to be outscored 39-20 in the second to trail by 20 at the half. Memphis made a furious charge, cutting the deficit to one with five minutes to play but got no closer. The Grizzlies shot 51.2 percent from the field and 14 of 27 from long range yet still lost. Free throw shooting proved important as the Grizzlies were 12 of 15 while the Thunder hit 24 of 35. Andrew Harrison led the team with 28 in the win.
The Grizzlies enter this contest ranked 29th in scoring offense in the league as they average 99.2 points per game. Memphis is in the bottom third of the pack in the league on the glass, ranking 28th with 40.6 boards a night. The Grizzlies are 27th in the league in assists with 21.1 per game. Memphis stands 5th in the league in scoring defense as they allow 102.9 points per game. Marc Gasol is second on the team with 17.7 points and 8.4 rebounds plus four assists per game. Mike Conley added 17.1 points plus 4.1 assists a night, rookie Dillon Brooks contributes nine points a game while Tyreke Evans adds a team high 19.5 points plus 5.1 rebounds and five assists per game. Conley has been out since November 13 with a heel injury: it was announced on January 27 that he would undergo season-ending surgery to smooth a bone protrusion in his heel. JaMychal Green (9.9 points), Chandler Parsons, Mario Chalmers, Wayne Selden and Andrew Harrison are key pieces in the rotation for Memphis. The Grizzlies are 25th in the league in field goal percentage as the team shoots 44.5 percent from the floor. Memphis is 22nd in the league with 9.3 threes per game and tied for 24th in the league as they shoot 34.8 percent from beyond the arc.
- Cavaliers are 21-9 ATS in their last 30 Friday games
- Grizzlies are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record
Cleveland is playing the second game of a back to back here but the Cavaliers aren’t as old and creaky in their rotation after the deals they made at the deadline. The Cavaliers seem to be more athletic and have been making plays on both ends of the floor as they beat Oklahoma City and Boston on the road. Memphis has fallen apart and their season is going nowhere fast. There is simply no reason to like the Grizzlies here, even with the rest advantage. Look for Cleveland to come up with the victory in this contest.