As Monta Ellis goes, so go his Golden State Warriors (4-8). He's their best player, maybe the most underrated offensive player in the Association overall, and he will need to be contained by the Cavaliers tonight. He's averaging 24 points and almost 8 assists per game through these first twelve on forty percent shooting from the floor, and staying in front of Ellis to make him settle for three pointers would be a good idea. Despite accounting for about 40 of Golden State's points per night on average, Monta is shooting under twenty-four percent from three point range on the season. So I'd take my chances out there all night if possible.
The guy who will be charged with the task of slowing Ellis out the gate - I think - would be Daniel Gibson. Steph Curry hasn't played since January 5th, didn't participate in shoot-a-round this morning, but Golden State team officials did say they do expect Steph to play tonight. I'm guessing - could be wrong - that if he does it wouldn't be as a starter. So if Curry doesn't start for the Warriors, expect the rookie guard from Hofstra, Charles Jenkins, to make his seventh start of the season alongside Ellis in the backcourt.
Jenkins is listed at 6'3" and so is Ellis, and if those two do start tonight in Cleveland (they both did as recently as their last game against DET) I'd put Gibson - who's been playing some solid defense lately, especially yesterday against Kemba - on Monta Ellis and have Irving guard the fellow rookie Jenkins. I do realize that Anthony Parker is out tonight, and that is technically why Daniel Gibson is starting, but I kinda like this match-up for Gibson regardless. Think it's a good look for the Cavaliers here, and while guarding Ellis will probably be a team effort, I'm not so sure the GSW backcourt will have an answer for Kyrie though either. Especially if Booby stretches things out some by knocking down a couple three's early.
Besides Ellis, David Lee is an All Star caliber forward, is averaging a man-sized double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds per game so far, and Andy will have his hands full in there with him too. Despite those gaudy numbers from Lee coming in however, I give the edge to Varejao based on how he's playing and I think the seven foot tall Brazilian slows down the 6'9" Lee just enough to keep the paint controlled by Cleveland.
Other than Ellis, Jenkins (3 pts, 2 apg), Curry, and Lee, Dorrell Wright's a good player (8 pts, 6 rpg) and Brandon Rush has been playing pretty well (9 pts, 3 rpg) too, but coming in at 4-8 this is a game the Cavaliers are certainly capable of winning. With Chicago coming in on Friday, it's one they kinda need to win too in order to finish this week at .500.
Should be a fun one tonight regardless though, and it will be especially so for Mychel Thompson as he should be suited in an NBA uniform for the first time as well. Which is perfect timing for him because his brother Klay Thompson will be on the opposite bench rocking a Warriors uniform.
More later on from the Q.