The Cavaliers (CAVZ!!!) take on the Sacramento Kings this afternoon (3 PM, FSOhio, WTAM 1100) to start a three-game home stretch over the next six days. The main story of the game is the return of Cavz center Zydrunas Ilgauskas to the Z (The Z!!!) after his trade to the Washington Wizards before the trade deadline, followed by his subsequent buyout.
While Z has played in two games since his return to the Cavz, both games were on the road. There has been an ongoing debate to the method in which the Cavz will play Z in his first game back in front of the home crowd that influenced his return. The game plan according to the team has been to bring Ilgauskas off the bench towards the end of the first quarter. While starting Z would be a nice gesture, the argument has been that bringing him off the bench will allow the fans to focus on him as he enters the game. With Andy Varejao out with a hamstring injury, Ilgauskas will still likely come off the bench.
The Kings come in to this game on a three-game losing streak, and are 3-7 in their last 10 games. The Kings also are 7-30 on the road. In addition to not being all that good, the Kings are without rookie guard Tyreke “The Freak” Evans, who is out with a concussion.
Cavaliers – Offense: 102.2 Ppg, 113 points/100 poss, 48.6 FG%, 53.5 eFG%, 26.5 FTA, 15 T/O%, efficiency: 109.3 (rank: 2); Defense 94.8 ppg, 104 pts/100 poss, 43.8 FG%, 47.7 eFG%, 23.6 FTA, 14% T/O, efficiency: 101.0 (rank: 9)
Kings – Offense: 100.7 Ppg, 106 points/100 poss, 45.6 FG%, 49.2 eFG%, 24.6 FTA, 15 T/O%, efficiency: 102.2 (rank: 21); Defense 104.6 ppg, 110 pts/100 poss, 46.7 FG%, 50.2 eFG%, 27.0 FTA, 14% T/O, efficiency: 106.8 (rank: 21)
Cavz: Shaquille O’Neal (out, thumb), Anderson Varejao (out, hamstring), Sebastian Telfair (groin, out)
Kings: Tyreke Evans (out, concussion), Spencer Hawes (back strain, day-to-day), Francisco Garcia (right wrist, day-to-day)
Dec 23, Cavz 117 Kings 103 recap
View from the other side:
On paper, this game shouldn’t be much, if any, of a challenge for the Cavz. The Kings are not a particularly strong road team, are without one of their best players, and will be playing in a rowdier than normal arena.
Welcome back, Z. The team is setting up numerous video and signage tributes to the big man. If any of you are at the game and get good photos, send them our way at firstname.lastname@example.org.