Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Eagle Eye Sports Monitor

NBA Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers (35-22) at New Orleans Pelicans (29-27)

The Cleveland Cavaliers expect to have their starting backcourt back on the floor when they visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.

Donovan Mitchell (groin) and Darius Garland (thumb) both sat out Wednesday’s 113-85 rout of the Detroit Pistons with minor ailments.

Mitchell, who will start in the upcoming All-Star Game, is averaging 26.8 points per game. Garland is contributing 22 points and 8.1 assists per game.

The Cavaliers didn’t miss either player while posting their fourth consecutive victory. Instead, they were led by frontcourt performers Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley.

Allen scored 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting and collected 16 rebounds — including nine on the offensive boards. Mobley added 19 points and eight rebounds.

Cleveland didn’t make any significant moves before Thursday’s trade deadline though rumors were heavy that guard Caris LeVert might be on the way out.

But no deal materialized one day after LeVert was just 5-of-16 shooting while scoring 15 points against the Pistons.

The Cavaliers are looking to finish off a two-game regular-season sweep of the Pelicans. Cleveland registered a 113-103 home victory on Jan. 16 behind 30 points from Garland.

New Orleans stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram both missed that game due to injuries.

The injury-prone Williamson (hamstring) won’t be on the floor for the rematch and will miss his 20th consecutive game. Williamson also has been ruled out for the Pelicans’ final two games before the All-Star break and will also sit out the All-Star Game.

Williamson is averaging 26 points in 29 games. The fourth-year pro has played in just 114 games for New Orleans since being the No. 1 overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft.

Ingram recently returned from a left big toe injury that sidelined him for two months and he appears to be regaining his form. He is averaging 30.3 points over the last three games on 36-of-66 shooting (54.5 percent), including back-to-back efforts of 35 and 30 points.

Ingram made 11 of 18 shots in the 30-point outing during Tuesday’s 116-107 victory over the visiting Atlanta Hawks. It was the Pelicans’ third straight win after they lost 10 consecutive contests and 15 of their previous 18.

Ingram said his conditioning is back and that rates as a big help.

New Orleans made a minor deal before Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, sending guard Devonte’ Graham and four second-round picks to the San Antonio Spurs for guard Josh Richardson.

Richardson averaged 11.5 points in 42 games for the Spurs this season.

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