GameDay Preview: Cavs at Timberwolves

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Tyler Zeller, Kevin Love

Game Summary

The Cleveland Cavaliers (4-15) take on the Minnesota Timberwolves (8-9) at the Target Center tonight for the first of two regular season matchups. Tipoff is at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Last time Cleveland went to Minnesota on Jan. 6, 2012, the Cavs’ defense held the Wolves to just .392 (31-79) shooting from the floor, which resulted in a 98-87 victory.

Anderson Varejao continues his stellar play, and with his 10th straight double-double of the season on Wednesday night (11 points, 15 rebounds), Varejao is now averaging 15.0 points and 15.4 rebounds (both career-highs).

Minnesota is led by a double-double machine of their own in big man, Kevin Love. Since coming back from a hand injury which caused him to miss the first nine games, Love is averaging 19.4 points and 14.4 rebounds.

Probable Starters/Injury Report* presented by Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland ClinicCavaliers: PG - Jeremy Pargo, SG - Daniel Gibson, SF - Alonzo Gee
PF - Tristan Thompson, C - Anderson Varejao

Timberwolves: PG - Luke Ridnour, SG - Malcolm Lee, SF - Josh Howard
PF - Kevin Love, C - Nikola Pekovic

Injuries: (Cavs) - Kyrie Irving (Hairline/Non-Displaced Fracture in Left Index Finger, Out), Dion Waiters (Left Ankle Sprain, Out)
(Timberwolves) - Andrei Kirilenko (Back Spasms, Probable), Brandon Roy (Knee Surgery, Out), Ricky Rubio (Torn ACL, Out)

*Subject to change

Head-to-Head Matchup

The Cavaliers lead the all-time series against the Timberwolves, 28-15, posting a 14-7 mark in games played at home and a 14-8 record in games played in Minnesota. Furthermore, the Cavs have won 10 of the last 12 games against Minnesota, which includes a 6-1 mark at the Target Center.

As mentioned, the Wine and Gold won the last game between the two teams in their only matchup a season ago. In that game, Anderson Varejao had a strong all-around performance with 13 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks in 34 minutes.

Key to the Game/Key Matchup

Key to the Game

Knocking Down Treys
It's simple math, threes beat twos, and if the Cavaliers' marksmen can have a good game beyond-the-arc, they will have a sizable advantage. The Wolves rank dead last in the NBA in three-point accuracy (30.6).

Omri Casspi and Daniel Gibson have shot the ball well recently from downtown. Casspi is shooting .486 (18-37) from beyond the arc, which ranks 6th in the NBA this season while Gibson has knocked down 31-of-77 triples (.403).

Key Matchup

Cavs Frontcourt vs. Timberwolves Frontcourt
With starting point guards, Kyrie Irving and Ricky Rubio, out with injuries, the big man battle between the Cavaliers and Timberwolves will be the key matchup.

The Cavs' big have been putting in work on the glass and with 14 offensive rebounds on Dec. 5 versus the Bulls, the Wine and Gold have grabbed at least 10 offensive rebounds in 13 straight games, which is the 2nd longest active streak in the NBA. Coming into tonight’s contest, the Cavs rank 2nd on the offensive end in second chance points (17.8) and are the NBA’s leader in second chance points allowed (11.2).

The Cavs have also tied or outrebounded their opponent in offensive rebounds in 18 of their 19 games so far with an average of 14.2 offensive rebounds per game (2nd) to their opponents’ 9.6, which is the lowest in the NBA. Overall, the Cavs are allowing the 3rd-lowest rebound average in the NBA (39.6).

With the aforementioned Love and Nikola Pekovic, the Timberwolves have a physical one-two punch down low. As a result, Minnesota ranks 5th in the league in total rebounds per game (45.2) and 4th in rebounding margin (+4.18).

Where to Catch the Action

TV: FSOhio HD, NBA League Pass
Radio: WTAM 1100, XM 205, NBA League Pass Audio