Top Home Games of 2013-14: No. 12 vs. CLE

Friday, Nov. 22, 7 p.m.

Other 2013-14 games between these two teams
Tuesday, Jan. 28, New Orleans at Cleveland

Why it’s on the list
Have all of the three most recent No. 1 overall NBA draft picks ever participated in the same game? Even without confirmation on that from the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s safe to say that the late November interconference matchup between the Pelicans and Cavaliers will be closely watched around the league, partly due to the presence of Kyrie Irving (2011 top pick), Anthony Davis (2012) and Anthony Bennett (2013).

Two teams that have benefited recently from the draft lottery now have their sights on making a significant jump in the standings. Based on many NBA analysts’ projections, it’s not inconceivable that Cleveland and New Orleans could be the most improved teams in the East and West, respectively.

The clubs actually played an entertaining game on national TV last season, with the Cavaliers prevailing behind an Irving fourth-quarter barrage at Quicken Loans Arena. New Orleans returned the favor at home on Easter, posting a 112-92 victory despite Irving’s 31 points. New Pelicans starting point guard Jrue Holiday will be given the task of trying to keep Irving from putting up big numbers again vs. NOLA.

What’s new in Cleveland
Despite going 24-58 last season, the Cavaliers have their sights on a possible playoff berth next spring, based on a major talent infusion. A combination of key injuries and subpar depth prevented Cleveland from sniffing .500 in 2012-13, but it selected Bennett No. 1 on draft night, then later signed center Andrew Bynum, point guard Jarrett Jack and forward Earl Clark in free agency. When coupled with a young core of USA Basketball participants Irving, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller – as well as bigs Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson – the Cavaliers should no longer be one of the East’s bottom-feeding teams.