The Cleveland Cavaliers are headed back home for a challenging pair of games after boosting their confidence by polishing off one of the league’s worst teams.
The Los Angeles Clippers won’t have Blake Griffin on the court but will feature the league’s best 3-point shooter in J.J. Redick.
LeBron James will play in Cleveland for the first time since suffering the worst home loss of his career as the Cavaliers look to end Redick and the Clippers’ six-game road win streak.
This difficult week for Cleveland (29-11) began with an embarrassing 132-98 loss to Golden State on Monday in a NBA Finals rematch. Two more difficult home games are on tap against Los Angeles (27-14) and then Chicago on Saturday.
In between, the Cavaliers got a much-needed breather Wednesday with a 91-78 victory at Brooklyn. James and Kevin Love each scored 17 points and sat out the fourth quarter, with Love also grabbing 18 rebounds and logging a team-high 31 minutes.
"For us, we haven’t earned anything," James said. "We just got to go out and prove ourselves to each other, it’s not about what everybody else thinks, it’s about what we need for each other to get better every night. I think tonight it was very easy to look each other in the face and know that we got better tonight."
That effort should have Cleveland rested enough to face a Clippers team once again without Griffin (23.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg) as he recovers from a partially torn left quadriceps tendon. The five-time All-Star, though, is traveling with the club on this five-game trip.
Los Angeles is 10-1 in this stretch without Griffin, with Redick averaging 20.2 points and shooting 58.6 percent on 3-pointers.
Redick is shooting 50.0 percent from beyond the arc after he connected at a career-best 43.7 percent a season ago. His 0.473 points per touch leads all NBA starters.
"I’m learning to be more patient as the game goes on and balance that with aggressiveness," Redick said.
Redick turned in the first 40-point game of his career Monday in a 140-132 overtime victory over Houston. He made 9 of 12 3-pointers as the Clippers set a franchise record by sinking 22.
"You could show up sometimes in a gym without defense and not make that many," coach Doc Rivers said. "It’s just we have guys who can make 3s."
Center DeAndre Jordan returned after missing two games with pneumonia and finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds for his ninth straight double-double. Chris Paul had 28 points and 12 assists.
Paul will face Kyrie Irving for the sixth time, with the Cavaliers winning four of five. Irving has averaged 18.6 points and 5.4 assists while Paul is averaging 14.2 points and 12.4 assists in those matchups.
The Clippers are on a challenging road trip that features the three Eastern Conference division leaders, New York and Indiana.
"This is a good road trip ’cause it’s hard," Rivers said. "It’s not a lot of easy games on this trip. You have to go out and play and play well to win. The teams that we’re going out to play don’t lose a lot at home."