GameDay Preview: Cavs vs. Pacers

Dion Waiters
Ron Hoskins/NBAE/GettyImages

Game Summary

The Wine and Gold travel to Indiana today to take on the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Tipoff is slated for 3:00 p.m. ET.

Cleveland’s (10-20) last three games have been decided by a total of nine points, including Sunday’s overtime contest with Golden State when the Cavs made a season-high .625 (10-16) of their shots from the three-point line.

Coming into today’s game, Cleveland is averaging an Eastern Conference-best 39.9 bench points (4th-best in the NBA). The Cavs second unit has outscored the opponents’ reserves in 24 of 30 contests and has scored at least 40 points 15 times this season.

Indiana (24-5) comes into tonight's contest riding a four-game winning streak after downing the Brooklyn Nets 105-91 on Saturday. All five Indiana starters scored in double-figures for the sixth time this season.

Probable Starters/Injury Report* presented by Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland ClinicCavaliers: PG - Kyrie Irving, SG - C.J. Miles, SF - Earl Clark
PF - Tristan Thompson, C - Anderson Varejao

Pacers: PG - George Hill, SG - Lance Stephenson, SF - Paul George
PF - David West, C - Roy Hibbert

Status Update: (Cavs) - Andrew Bynum, (Conduct Detrimental to the Team, Out)

(Pacers) - None to Report

*Subject to change

Head-to-Head Matchup

In the first contest between the Cavs and Pacers on Nov. 2, Dion Waiters scored 17 points and swiped a career-high tying four steals in 29 minutes.

The next two meetings of this four-game regular season series between the two foes will take place at The Q (Jan. 5 & March 30).

Cleveland is 82-88 all-time against Indiana including a 52-34 record while playing in their own arena (30-54 on the road).

Key to the Game/Key Matchup

Key to the Game

Ball Movement

Indiana has one of the best defenses in the entire league. With long, quick defenders on the perimeter and physical, big bodies clogging the paint, the Pacers make it difficult for teams to get good looks at the basket.

Cleveland has done a superb job of sharing the rock recently. The Cavaliers have hit the century mark in scoring in eight of the last 10 games, averaging 106.0 points per game over that stretch. Since Dec. 10, the Cavs are the 3rd-highest scoring team in the Eastern Conference (8th in NBA).

The Wine and Gold must continue to share the basketball and utilize good ball movement to create open looks at the hoop.

Key Matchup

Cavs Swingmen vs. Paul George

Indiana's leader Paul George can do a little bit of everything. The 2012-13 Most Improved Player of Year has length and athleticism and can dominate the game at both ends of the floor.

In their last game, George bucketed 24 points (9-13 FG, 3-6 3PT), three rebounds, two assists and three steals. During the team’s current four-game winning streak, George has shot 57.4% from the field (35-61) and 44.4% from three-point range (12-27) for 24.5 ppg.

Having an equally long and athletic defender on George is one of the main reasons the Wine and Gold went out and signed 6-10 forward Earl Clark this past offseason.

Clark is shooting a team best .442 (34-77) from the three-point line this season. He has the 3rd largest improvement among all NBA players in three-point percentage from a season ago when he shot .337 (+.105).

Fortunately for the Cavaliers, they have the luxury of throwing another premier perimeter defender at George in Alonzo Gee. Since Gee joined the Wine and Gold in the 2010-11 Season, he has been the Cavs go-to defender taking on everyone from point guards to power forwards.

If Clark and Gee can slow down George and hold him at or below his season averages, then it will give Cleveland a distinct advantage tonight.

Where to Catch the Action

TV: FOX Sports Ohio, Radio: WTAM 1100, NBA League Pass Audio, XM 217, Sirius 218

For live in-game updates, follow @cavs, @CavsJoeG, @CavsFredMcLeod, @MrCavalier34, @CavsJMike and @chones22 on Twitter.

Be sure to check for Joe Gabriele's live in-game blog providing instant analysis and game notes. Plus, get into the discussion as die-hard Cavs fans talk about the game on CavFanatic's GameDay Thread.

On Deck

After tonight's game, the Cavs return to The Q on Thursday, January 2nd to take on the Orlando Magic at 7:00 p.m. ET.