The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to put a heavy burden on superstar LeBron James, who is proving he is up for the challenge. James will try to lead the Cavaliers to their eighth straight win when they visit the surging Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.
Cleveland needed 27 points, 16 rebounds and 13 assists from James to squeeze by with a 100-99 win over Charlotte on Friday, and he added three blocked shots to a team defensive effort that ended up with the Hornets shooting 38.3 percent in the contest. James logged 40 minutes in the win to mark the eighth time in 19 games that he reached the 40-minute mark, and he is averaging 37.7 minutes while shooting 58 percent from the field. The 76ers are keeping their star players on a tighter limit as far as playing time is concerned but are winners of three straight and five of their last six after blowing out the Orlando Magic 130-111 on Saturday. Philadelphia held rookie sensation Ben Simmons out of that game due to elbow soreness and hope to have the nightly triple-double threat back on Monday.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS Ohio (Cleveland), NBCS-Plus Philadelphia
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (12-7): Cleveland’s winning streak is being accomplished without the services of point guard Derrick Rose, who is third on the team in scoring (14.3) but missed the last eight games with an ankle injury and is reportedly away from the team while evaluating his future. “We want, whatever he decides to do, we want the best for him,” James told reporters of Rose. “At the end of the day, you can’t substitute nothing for happiness. And obviously, we know the injuries that he’s been going through his whole career. We hope this ain’t the end, but if it is, I was happy I got an opportunity to spend a couple months with him and watch him be the great point guard that he once was.” Veteran Jose Calderon is filling in as the starting point guard of late, but James is doing the bulk of the heavy lifting when it comes to running the offense.
ABOUT THE 76ERS (11-7): Philadelphia brought in JJ Redick on a one-year contract over the summer to provide a veteran presence in the locker room and a deadly shooter on the court, and he went off for 29 points in Saturday’s win. Redick buried six of his eight 3-pointers in the first half and finished 10-of-18 from the floor while reaching the 20-point plateau for the third time in the last four games. “I kind of blacked out there in the second quarter,” Redick told reporters. “I feel like when you hit a couple shots in a row, the ball is like a magnet, and your teammates are looking for you.”
1. Cavaliers PF Kevin Love recorded a double-double in each of the last three games and five of the last seven.
2. Philadelphia PG T.J. McConnell started in place of Simmons on Saturday and recorded season highs of 15 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds.
3. Cleveland is enjoying a nine-game winning streak in the series and took the three meetings last season by an average of 7.3 points.
PREDICTION: 76ers 110, Cavaliers 107