The Grizzlies open up a home-and-home series with the NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday. To give us some insight, we got with Chris Manning, the Editor at Fear the Sword and the Host of Locked on Cavaliers. Here’s what Chris had to say:
1. After LeBron was finally able to accomplish his greatest task of bringing a title back to Cleveland, what do you think his motivation is for this season? Obviously he wants to win another one, but do you think there’s any goal beyond that, like winning another MVP, or is his sole focus Golden State?
I do think LeBron would like to win an MVP and that it’s something he has on his mind as he moves through this season. But, ultimately, I do think it is all about beating the Warriors again and adding another title to his resume. The one he’s already won certainly means more than any other one (at least to Cavs fans and probably to LeBron as well), but this is a player who plays for titles every year. It’s just what he does and it’s what defines him.
2. Cleveland lost two point guards in the off-season with Dellavedova going to Milwaukee and Mo Williams’ retirement. Obviously having LeBron helps you with some of the point guard issues this causes, but what do you think the team will do to address this situation? Is Mario Chalmers still the primary target or are there any trade candidates?
What’s interesting about this is that Mo Williams is still on the roster even though it’s been made very clear that he’s not coming back to the team. This is also a regular season problem, as LeBron will take over as the team’s quasi backup point guard when the playoffs roll around. And I think Mario Chalmers is probably their best option, assuming he’s good to go after his Achilles injury. I’m not sure anyone else available can shoot and create like he can. Plus, he has experience playing with LeBron.
3. The Cavs still have over $10mm in trade exceptions left that will expire early in 2017. Other than point guard, is there any position you expect them to address with these assets? Do you have a preferred target?
Like most teams, I think trading for a wing makes sense. Mike Dunleavy hasn’t exactly played well and all it would take is one injury to leave the Cavs really thin. If we wanted to think of names, Trevor Ariza is someone Cavs fans love to speculate about and my personal dream addition would be Courtney Lee. Neither of those, though, seem likely because they mean a lot to their respective teams and the Cavs don’t exactly have a lot to offer other teams in a trade. But if they do make a trade, I really think it might be for a wing.
4. LeBron has played all but one game to this point, so with the home-and-home series coming on back-to-back nights, is there any chance that Cleveland rests him or some of their other stars in the second game?
There’s a good chance, and I think it makes a lot of sense. The Warriors game on Christmas isn’t far away and January seems like the month where LeBron will take several games off. I think, though, that it depends on how Tuesday goes. If the Cavs win in a blowout, then there’s a better chance we’ll see him play Wednesday. But if he plays 40-plus minutes, maybe he rests. This past weekend played out fairly similarly when the Cavs blew out the Heat and then LeBron played 42 minutes on Saturday against Charlotte.
5. The Cavaliers have attempted a massive number of threes this season. Is Memphis’ best shot at beating Cleveland just running them off the line and forcing them inside, or is there another weakness that the Grizzlies can try to exploit?
I think the Grizzlies’ best chance is to rely on their stout defense and attack the Cavs at their weakest spots on defense. If Mike Conley were healthy, I’d say that means attacking Kyrie Irving in the pick and roll. But without him, I think that means trying to post Zach Randolph against Kevin Love when possible, trying to clear the paint with Marc Gasol’s shooting, and trying to make the Cavs work for points. At the moment, this team is too good at passing, too good at creating open looks, and too good at creating chaos for a team (even one like Memphis) to run them off the three-point line. Keeping up 48 minutes of effort on defense just seems like an impossible task against Cleveland.
Thanks again to Chris! Be sure to check out Fear the Sword for info on the Cavaliers, as well as our portion of the five questions segment.