The Cleveland Cavaliers look to halt a three-game losing streak on Friday night when they hit up the Target Center for a matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Without their young, dynamic starting backcourt on Wednesday, the Cavaliers fell to the Chicago Bulls 95-85 at home. They are 2-10 on the road this season and Kyrie Irving will still be out with a broken finger and rookie Dion Waiters' status in unknown for Friday night with a left ankle sprain.
In their last two losses, the Cavs have shot 33.7 percent against the Pistons and 36.5 percent against the Bulls. It's not hard to imagine the offense struggling without 38.1 ppg in suits on the bench.
"One thing we'll be and always will be is a no excuse team, and we're going to play the guys that we have available," head coach Byron Scott said after the Chicago loss. "We're not going to cry about the guys that aren't here and can't participate because when they're healthy, they'll come back and supply us with the parts that we need. Right now the guys that we have out there are playing as hard as they can and that's all you can ask for."
When it comes to playing as hard as you can, no one on the Cavs' roster exemplifies that more than Anderson Varejao. Against the Bulls, Varejao registered 11 points and 15 rebounds for his 10th straight double-double. He is the third player in Cavs' history to accomplish the feat, but here's something no Cavs player can claim - all 10 of Varejao's double-doubles have come with 15 rebounds or more.
Varejao leads the league in rebounding, but next on that list is Kevin Love of the T-Wolves. In the eight games since his return from a broken hand, Love is averaging 19.4 ppg and 14.4 rpg.
Minnesota is only 3-5 since Love rejoined the lineup. They've won two of their last three, but a 104-94 loss the last time out in Boston became a disaster in the third quarter. Up four at the half, the Timberwolves lost the third quarter by 11.
After a scorching night shooting Tuesday en route to victory in Philadelphia, Minnesota shot 44 percent against the Celtics. Perhaps more troubling than the field-goal number was that the T-Wolves shot a putrid 46.7 percent from the foul line.
"The second half, they got the lead and we missed a lot of free throws," said head coach Rick Adelman. "I thought we were playing pretty well, but in the second half, they took control."
The Timberwolves are 4-3 at home, but have gone 1-3 in their last four. Six of their next 10 are in Minnesota.
The Cavaliers are 10-2 in their last 12 against the Timberwolves and have won six of their last seven in Minnesota.