Pregame Dribbles: Cavs' Love out, Sixers' Simmons talks Garland, etc.
Some pregame dribbles as the Cavaliers prepare for another matchup with New York at Madison Square Garden.
1. First of all, Kevin Love is listed as out with a lower back contusion, per the league's official injury report. Love took a hard fall during Sunday's loss to Philadelphia, landing on his back. He initially said it was a knee that was bothering him. But anyone who saw the fall knew Love would probably be sore all over today.
2. It wouldn't be easy for the Cavs (4-8) even if they did have their best player. They blew out the Knicks in New York just last week. Their opponent is looking to exact some revenge. Now, the Cavs will be minus Love's 18.2 points and team-leading 12.1 rebounds.
3. Along with that, the Cavs are coming off two lousy performances at home. When it comes to road games, veterans such as Love and Tristan Thompson are typically the men who can get it done.
4. Love is injury prone and often misses large chunks of every season. You can't help but wonder when he'll be back.
5. As an added bonus, power forward Larry Nance Jr. is also listed as out with a sprained thumb. He also missed Sunday's loss. So an already thin frontcourt is now extremely depleted.
6. Center Ante Zizic did make his season debut Sunday -- though coach John Beilein has stressed Zizic is not yet in game shape after missing all of training camp with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Beilein said Zizic was a little winded in his return.
7. So who will start in Love's place? That's a good question. It normally would be Nance. It could be Zizic, moving Thompson to power forward. Or maybe Beilein will opt to go smaller with rookie Kevin Porter Jr. or Alfonzo McKinnie.
8. Those are just guesses, though. Beilein isn't required by the league to reveal his starters until 30 minutes before tipoff (7 p.m., FOX Sports Ohio). Understandably, he’ll use every last second.
9. Meanwhile, it seems like the Knicks' entire roster is made up of power forwards -- from Julius Randle to Bobby Portis to Kevin Knox to Taj Gibson.
10. The good news for the Cavs is the Knicks (3-10) won four days ago, beating Dallas. So maybe they got it out of their system for the month.
11. Because of the injuries to Love and Nance, the Cavs will be relying heavily on the backcourt of Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and top reserve Jordan Clarkson. They will need someone else to provide points (and crash the boards).
12. Garland has been more aggressive lately, and even attempted 13 shots against the 76ers. He only made four, but as far as Beilein is concerned, that's beside the point. Everyone wants Garland to continue to assert himself.
13. Sixers star guard Ben Simmons on Garland: "He's shifty. You know, he has a great touch around the rim. He has great handles and a great IQ. He's a great kid, too, so I'm excited to see how he develops."
14. For more on the Cavs and their issues on offense, check out my postgame dribbles from Sunday: Lack of ball movement starts at point guard.
15. After this, the Cavs head to Miami on Wednesday, then visit Dallas on Friday before facing Portland at home Saturday. This is a tough stretch and they are going to need to pull an upset or two just for sanity's sake.