By Don Phillips
January 8, 2016
Cleveland Cavaliers at Minnesota Timberwolves
8:00 p.m. on ESPN/FS
On the season, the Cavs are allowing the 3rd-lowest scoring average in the league at 94.7 points. Cleveland also ranks 8th in the league in opponent field goal percentage at .435.
Cleveland has held foes to less than 100 points on 19 occasions this season (15-4), less than 90 points 11 times (10-1) and under .400 shooting nine times (9-0). Cleveland ranks 7th in the NBA in opponent three-point field goal percentage (.331) and 6th in opponent three-pointers made per game (7.2). The Cavs are giving up 9.8 fast break points per game, which is the 2nd-lowest in the NBA. Cleveland is also allowing the 4th-lowest second chance points in the league at 10.8.
Inside the painted area, the Wine and Gold are allowing 39.9 points, which is the 9th lowest in the association. In the fourth quarter, the Cavs are giving up 22.3 points (1st in NBA) on .398 shooting (2nd), including .277 from beyond the arc (1st) in the final period.
The team’s 34.4 defensive rebounds per game rank them 8th in the NBA. During a two-game road trip, the Cavs held Orlando (76 points on Dec. 11) and Boston (77 points on Dec. 15) to under 80 points, and a combined average of just 76.5 points on .352 shooting from the field, including just .278 (15-54) from the three-point territory. The last time Cleveland held two consecutive road opponents to under 80 points was in February 1999 in games at Boston (2/6/99, 77 points) and Charlotte (2/10/99, 77 points).
Since Dec. 11, the Cavs rank 2nd in both opponent points per game (91.3) and field goal percentage (.422). Cleveland is coming off a 121-115 win at Washington on Wednesday night when the Cavs shot 48-89 (.539) from the field, including 12-29 (.414) from the three-point line. The Wine and Gold are now 9-0 this season when shooting .500 or better from the field and 37-0 when doing so since March 23, 2014. Over the last two games, the offense is averaging 121.5 points on .546 shooting, including .468 (29-62) from deep.
The Cavs have made at least 11 three-pointers in five of the last six games, averaging 12.2 triples per game over that stretch. On the season, the team is connecting on 10.1 three-pointers per game (3rd-best in NBA).
In Wednesday’s win at Washington, LeBron James scored 34 points on 12-22(.545) shooting from the field, Kyrie Irving made 14 of his 22 (.636) field goal attempts in a 32-point effort and J.R. Smith chipped in with 25 points and converted 10 of his 16 (.625) field goal attempts. It marked the first time in Cleveland’s franchise history that it had three players score at least 25 points and make more than half of their field goal attempts in a road game. The Cavaliers have done that six times at home since entering the NBA in 1970.
The Cleveland Cavaliers continue their six-game road trip tonight when they square off against the Minnesota Timberwolves for the first time this season. Cleveland has won 13 of the last 18 meetings between the two teams, which includes a 7-3 mark at the Target Center over that stretch.
You’ll see Cleveland a 10½-point road favorite for this contest at America’s Bookie, the best online sportsbook, with the total at 195.