76ers Blog: Pre-Game Notes ~ 1/7/2014 @ Cleveland Cavaliers
1/7/2014 6:47:00 PM
The 76ers (12-23; 4th-Atlantic Division, 11th-Eastern Conference) find themselves right back out on the road, making a quick stop at the Cleveland Cavaliers (11-23; 4th-Central Division, 13th-Eastern Conference). Tonight marks the Sixers' seventh road appearance in their last eight games. The team saw its season-best four-game winning streak snapped in humbling fashion yesterday evening, losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 126-95, at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers, however, will be looking to extend their current road winning streak to a fifth game.
Cleveland has endured a bumpy past two and a half weeks. During this period, the Cavaliers have lost 10 of their last 12 games, matching their poorest stretch of the season. After failing to reach 25 victories each of the last three years, Cleveland decided not to retain former head coach Byron Scott, opting to instead re-hire Mike Brown, who led the LeBron James-era Cavs to five playoff appearances.
So far, Brown has had to work past a handful of adverse circumstances that have sprung up. There was the rumored locker room spat between potent backcourt mates Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters; the sudden, indefinite suspension of center Andrew Bynum, who was traded to the Chicago Bulls last night; and, most recently, the latest injury to suffered by Irving, the 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year.
The 76ers finished their recently-completed five-game Western Conference road trip with four straight wins, but had their momentum snuffed out in their lopsided loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves last night. Against the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers, the Sixers have an opportunity to try and recapture their mojo.
One of the challenges, though, that Brett Brown's team will face is rediscovering the energy it played with out West, and doing so in the absence of Tony Wroten. He'll be held out of a second straight game due to the flu. Wroten has served as the Sixers' top bench scorer, averaging 13.8 points.
"He can be that type of spark-plug that you need. You need it from somebody," head coach Brett Brown said following yesterday's setback. "We just didn't have it. I think the energy, the spark-plug that Tony provides was missed."
The Sixers' reserve corps will be going up against counterparts from the Cavaliers that have formed the Eastern Conference's most productive bench. The Cavs, though, will be without their second-leading second-stringer, shooting guard Jeff Jack; he's sidelined with back issues.
Late Monday night, the failed partnership between Cleveland and former All-Star big man Andrew Bynum officially came to an end. The Cavaliers traded Bynum's rights, along with future draft picks, to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Luol Deng, another All-Star front court player. Chicago then swiftly waived Bynum in a salary cap-friendly move.
Cleveland General Manager Chris Grant said in a press release, "[Deng] is a tremendous player that can impact the game on both ends of the court, with a team-first mentality and is a high character leader."
Towards the end of December, Bynum fell out of favor with the Cavaliers, and was ultimately suspended on an indefinite basis on Saturday, December 28th. He posted 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds over the course of 24 games this season.