National Basketball Association
Cleveland at San Antonio
When: 8:00 PM ET, Monday, March 27, 2017
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
The Cleveland Cavaliers are in danger of falling out of first place in the Eastern Conference and they won't have an easy time stopping the bleeding against a team in hot pursuit of the top spot in the West when they visit the San Antonio Spurs on Monday. The Cavaliers' latest defensive debacle came in a 127-115 home loss to Washington on Saturday and cut their lead over Boston to one-half game entering Sunday, with a visit to the Celtics on the horizon.
"I'm not confident," Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue told reporters when asked if there was time to repair a defense that has given up an average of 117.2 points during a 2-3 spell. "But we've got to." The Spurs have had no such issues, holding opponents under the century mark three times during a four-game winning streak - the latest a 106-98 triumph over the New York Knicks at home Saturday. Kawhi Leonard's 29 points led the way for San Antonio, which has a potentially pivotal matchup with the first-place Golden State Warriors - who entered Sunday with a two-game lead - on Wednesday. Leonard scored a career-high 41 points as the Spurs survived an overtime affair at Cleveland earlier in the season.TV:
8 p.m. ET, TNT, FSN Ohio (Cleveland)ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (47-25):
LeBron James was able to play Saturday despite a scratched cornea, ditching protective goggles early in the contest and finishing with 24 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. He is averaging 27 points while shooting 58 percent in four games since resting in a road game against the Los Angeles Clippers, while running mate Kyrie Irving has scored at least 20 points in a career-high 22 straight games. Reserve guard Iman Shumpert was scratched from Saturday's lineup due to knee soreness, although he was able to go through warmups and could be available Monday.ABOUT THE SPURS (56-16):
An eight-point win at home against the struggling Knicks - who nearly erased all of an early 20-point deficit - was not what San Antonio had in mind as it gears up for back-to-back games against conference leaders. "We had too many defensive breakdowns," center Pau Gasol - who had 19 points and 10 rebounds - told reporters. "They were getting in the paint too easily, which forced us to get bodies off other bodies. They got too many easy looks and they made the run." Guard Danny Green was out of the lineup to rest and rookie Dejounte Murray (groin) sat out his eighth consecutive contest.BUZZER BEATERS
1. Leonard has scored in double figures in 99 straight games and can become the third Spur to reach 100, joining George Gervin (406) and David Robinson (157).
2. Cavaliers C Tristan Thompson is 17-for-20 from the field over a span of five games.
3. James needs 41 points to surpass Shaquille O'Neal (28,596) and seize ninth place on the all-time scoring list.PREDICTION:
Spurs 109, Cavaliers 104
Stats and Records