National Basketball Association
Preview
Minnesota at Cleveland
When: 7:00 PM ET, Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio

It’s reunion week for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the first one getting to go back to the past is forward Kevin Love. The All-Star will greet his former organization and one or two former teammates when the Cavaliers host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday. Love was traded to Cleveland in a blockbuster deal over the summer that brought former No. 1 overall picks Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett back to the Timberwolves.

Love spent six seasons in Minnesota but never made the playoffs and was unlikely to stay with the franchise long term, prompting the team to move him in the best deal it could find. Love’s most recognizable former teammates, point guard Ricky Rubio and center Nikola Pekovic, have been injured and won’t play in Tuesday’s reunion. “You can’t really judge our team because we haven’t had our guys,” Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders told reporters of his Western Conference-worst squad. “It’s tough to judge because I do believe that all our guys will be better when we get those other guys back.”

TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBATV, FSN North (Minnesota), FSN Ohio (Cleveland)

ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (5-21): The injuries to Rubio, Pekovic and Kevin Martin have thrust more responsibility onto Wiggins, who was the biggest piece acquired in that trade. “I’ve been put into a bigger position here … and that’s what’s helping me grow more mentally and physically,” Wiggins told reporters. “We’re not going to start winning in one day. … We’re young. We’re starting two rookies and two sophomores.” Saunders is concerned that his young players have hit a mental and physical wall, and the Timberwolves are enduring a five-game losing streak.

ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (16-10): LeBron James will get his reunion when Cleveland visits Miami on Christmas Day and is hoping to take a three-game winning streak into that meeting. The Cavaliers turned up the defense over the weekend in wins over the Brooklyn Nets and Memphis Grizzlies, allowing 91 points in each. “The fact that we set the tone early for how we were going to play the game, I thought was really a major factor in the win,” head coach David Blatt, who had been critical of the team earlier in the week, told reporters after the win over Memphis.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Cavaliers, who handed out 34 assists in the win on Sunday, are 9-0 when recording 25 or more.

2. Minnesota F Shabazz Muhammad has gone over 20 points in a career-best four straight games.

3. Cleveland G Dion Waiters has scored 21 points in two of the last five games while failing to break double digits in the other three.

PREDICTION:
Cavaliers 109, Timberwolves 95
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div Conf
Minnesota 5-21 L5 3-11 2-10 0-0 5-21 1-2 2-13
Cleveland 16-10 W2 10-5 6-5 1-1 15-9 3-0 13-4
Last Meeting
Minnesota Cleveland
Date Away Home Pts Reb FG% Pts Reb FG%
11/13/13 CLE 95 MIN 124 124 49 54.9 95 37 41.4
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Minnesota K. Love 33 62.5 12
Cleveland K. Irving 20 47.1 3
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Minnesota K. Love 8 2 6
Cleveland T. Thompson 6 2 4
Assists Player  
Minnesota R. Rubio 16
Cleveland J. Jack 5
Season
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Minnesota S. Muhammad 378 50.0 80
Cleveland L. James 694 49.7 160
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Minnesota G. Dieng 251 101 150
Cleveland K. Love 310 55 255
Assists Player  
Minnesota M. Williams 149
Cleveland L. James 216
Quickchart Matchup
Minnesota Off vs  Cleveland Defense
98.2 Points For
99.4 Points Against
43.6 FG%
47.0 FG%
41.1 Reb
39.6 Reb
Cleveland Off vs  Minnesota Defense
102.8 Points For
108.4 Points Against
46.5 FG%
49.7 FG%
39.6 Reb
43.2 Reb