Cleveland Cavaliers 2012-13 Schedule: Monthly Breakdown and W-L Predictions

Hunter Konsens@HunterKonsensCorrespondent IIAugust 3, 2012

Cleveland Cavaliers 2012-13 Schedule: Monthly Breakdown and W-L Predictions

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    The Cleveland Cavaliers have rebounded quite nicely since LeBron James' "Decision", and this young, talented roster will have the opportunity to start making some major headlines starting this year.

    The regular season schedule for the Cavs was just recently released and, with this new information, we can begin to make some predictions on how this season will turn out for this rebuilding franchise.

    A playoff berth should not be out of the question for Cleveland due to the depth and talent currently on the roster and the fact that the organization competes in the weak Eastern Conference. Sure, the East has a few elite squads, but a majority of their playoff spots are battled over between mediocre clubs.

    Worst-case scenario for the franchise is that the prospects on the roster gain valuable experience and chemistry playing together. Depending on how well these young players, including rookies Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller, blend into the rotation, this could be a great year for Cleveland basketball.

    In the end, though, this team goes only as far as reigning Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving takes them. The point guard, who is recovering from a broken hand, made a few waves this summer playing for Team USA's Select Team. At times, Irving outplayed some of the facilitators on Team USA.

    This shouldn't shock the fans of Cleveland, though, as Irving played exceptionally in his first season in the Association. In a league dominated by point guards, Irving's dominance on a consistent basis is nothing to look over. He may never play at the level of James, but this young man is nothing to scoff at.

    Nonetheless, this is sure to be one exciting year for a team, franchise and city still distraught over the loss of arguably the greatest player of this decade.

October/November Schedule

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    -Tuesday, October 30 vs. Washington Wizards

    -Friday, November 2 vs. Chicago Bulls

    -Saturday, November 3 @ Milwaukee Bucks

    -Monday, November 5 @ Los Angeles Clippers

    -Wednesday, November 7 @ Golden State Warriors

    -Friday, November 9 @ Phoenix Suns

    -Sunday, November 11 @ Oklahoma City Thunder

    -Tuesday, November 13 @ Brooklyn Nets

    -Saturday, November 17 vs. Dallas Mavericks

    -Sunday, November 18 @ Philadelphia 76ers

    -Wednesday, November 21 vs. Philadelphia 76ers

    -Friday, November 23 @ Orlando Magic

    -Saturday, November 24 @ Miami Heat

    -Monday, November 26 @ Memphis Grizzlies

    -Tuesday, November 27 vs. Phoenix Suns

    -Friday, November 30 @ Atlanta Hawks

Key October/November Games

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    Tuesday, October 30 vs. Washington Wizards

    Starting off with a win, especially against the rival Washington Wizards, would absolutely help put fuel in the Cavaliers' fire to make the playoffs. The Wizards are another squad that is trying to get back to winning basketball after the horrendous end to the Gilbert Arenas-era. 

    Both teams boast established veteran big men, high-octane scoring rookie shooting guards and rising all-star-caliber point guards. Additionally, games between these two franchises have always been a bit chippy, making this must-see basketball.

    Saturday, November 3 @ Milwaukee Bucks

    Starting off a seven-game road trip with a win is absolutely essential to having a productive few weeks away from home. Nonetheless, Cleveland's third game of the season is sure to be exciting, as both teams possess a knack for putting the ball in the hoop.

    Additionally, the Bucks, like the Cavs, are also vying to somehow sneak into that coveted eighth slot in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket.

    Sunday, November 11 @ Oklahoma City Thunder

    To be considered elite, you must beat the elite. This should be the motto heading into the team's bout against the defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder. Obviously, the trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden is nearly impossible to stop, but Cleveland does possess enough talent to steal a win.

    October/November W-L Prediction: 8-8

    Wins: Wizards, Bucks, Suns (x2), Mavericks, 76ers (x2), Magic

    Losses: Bulls, Clippers, Warriors, Thunder, Nets, Heat, Grizzlies, Hawks

Preview and Predictions for October/November

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    Best one-on-one matchup of October/November

    Any point guard battle between a young gun like Kyrie Irving and a seasoned veteran like Chris Paul is sure to be thrilling. CP3 may still be the more dangerous passer and scorer, but Irving is undoubtedly the more athletic player.

    The Clippers will most likely take advantage of the Cavs' rebuilding roster, but this Irving-Paul battle alone should make any NBA enthusiast giddy with excitement.

    Cavaliers' best-case scenario for October/November

    Cleveland will be on the road for 11 out of their first 16 regular season games, making it extremely difficult to come out of the month of November with a winning record. Plus, seven of those road games are against teams who made the playoffs last season. Yikes.

    Coming out above even would be a sight to behold, but don't hold your breath. The best-case scenario is finishing the month even, which is exactly what I expect the team to accomplish.

    Cavaliers' worst-case scenario for October/November

    The Cavs have a multitude of new arrivals in their rotation, including rookies Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller. It may take some time for the team to build some chemistry. We also must not forget that Irving is coming off a broken hand. While he is expected to be able to go by the time the start of the season comes around, he still may not be fully recovered.

    A 4-12 start, taking advantage of a few of their easy home games, could be in store if the Cavs don't find production immediately from their prospects. After all, the team must find a way to make up for the major scoring load left by Antawn Jamison.

December Schedule

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    -Saturday, December 1 vs. Portland Trail Blazers

    -Monday, December 3 @ Detroit Pistons

    -Wednesday, December 5 vs. Chicago Bulls

    -Friday, December 7 @ Minnesota Timberwolves

    -Saturday, December 8 vs. Detroit Pistons

    -Tuesday, December 11 vs. Los Angeles Lakers

    -Wednesday, December 12 @ Indiana Pacers

    -Friday, December 14 vs. Milwaukee Bucks

    -Saturday, December 15 @ New York Knicks

    -Tuesday, December 18 vs. Toronto Raptors

    -Wednesday, December 19 @ Boston Celtics

    -Friday, December 21 vs. Indiana Pacers

    -Saturday, December 22 @ Milwaukee Bucks

    -Wednesday, December 26 @ Washington Wizards

    -Friday, December 28 vs. Atlanta Hawks

    -Saturday, December 29 @ Brooklyn Nets

Key December Games

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    Friday, December 7 @ Minnesota Timberwolves

    Much like the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Minnesota Timberwolves are a franchise on the rise. After years of dwelling at the bottom of the league, the Kevin Love-led Wolves may finally see some postseason action.

    The Cavs won their lone meeting against the Timberwolves last season, but will they be able to stage Minnesota off this year with their veteran additions of Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko?

    Tuesday, December 11 vs. Los Angeles Lakers

    With the eye-popping acquirement of Steve Nash from the Phoenix Suns, the Los Angeles Lakers have put themselves back into championship territory. Yes, Nash is just that good.

    When the Lakers come to Cleveland on December 11, the Cavs will have to play a near-perfect game to upstage arguably the greatest team currently in the NBA. From the twin towers of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol to the selfless Steve Nash, this team is stacked with talent.

    Oh, the Lakers also have a player by the name of Kobe Bryant.

    Saturday, December 15 @ New York Knicks

    The New York Knicks, despite the abundance of depth and talent at every position, have had little success due to their poor chemistry. This roster is built to play a run-and-gun offense, but superstar Carmelo Anthony excels at the half-court game. With all this clashing, the Knicks have yet to establish themselves among the NBA's upper echelon of squads.

    In fact, the Knicks aren't even a lock to make this year's playoffs. With a win against New York, the Cavs could carry their success throughout the season and possibly surpass the Knicks in the power rankings.

    December W-L Prediction: 7-9

    Wins: Pistons (x2), Timberwolves, Bucks (home), Knicks, Raptors, Wizards

    Losses: Trail Blazers, Bulls, Lakers, Pacers (x2), Celtics, Bucks (away), Hawks, Nets 

Previews and Predictions for December

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    Best one-on-one matchup of December

    Before the NBA draft began, there were a multitude of reports listing marksman Bradley Beal as Cleveland's No. 1 option if available at the fourth selection. However, the Washington Wizards drafted the former Florida Gator guard with the third pick, leaving the Cavs to reach for fellow shooting guard Dion Waiters from Syracuse.

    Many believed Waiters that high was a tremendous mistake, as he was projected to not even go in the lottery just a few months prior. Nonetheless, Waiters will have the opportunity to prove his critics wrong and show that he truly is the best shooting guard in this year's rookie class.

    Cavaliers' best-case scenario for December

    Two out of the Cavaliers' 16 games in December are against Western Conference foes. This is good news for Cleveland, as they will be able to use these games as a test to see how competitive their current group is against the rest of the East.

    Winning 11 out of the 16 games this month is a definite possibility, as most of the squads on the schedule possess mediocre rosters.

    Cavaliers' worst-case scenario for December

    The NBA season is far more strenuous than the college circuit, and the Cavaliers have many players in their rotation who are not used to the rigors that come with being a professional basketball player.

    It is possible all five players composing the Cavaliers starting lineup will only be in their first or second season, respectively. Dropping a few more games in December due to acclimating to the new condense schedule is absolutely possible for these young Cavs.

    The team is too talented to lose more than 11 of their 16 games, though.

January Schedule

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    -Wednesday, January 2 vs. Sacramento Kings

    -Friday, January 4 @ Charlotte Bobcats

    -Saturday, January 5 vs. Houston Rockets

    -Monday, January 7 @ Chicago Bulls

    -Wednesday, January 9 vs. Atlanta Hawks

    -Friday, January 11 @ Denver Nuggets

    -Sunday, January 13 @ Los Angeles Lakers

    -Monday, January 14 @ Sacramento Kings

    -Wednesday, January 16 @ Portland Trail Blazers

    -Saturday, January 19 @ Utah Jazz

    -Tuesday, January 22 vs. Boston Celtics

    -Friday, January 25 vs. Milwaukee Bucks

    -Saturday, January 26 @ Toronto Raptors

    -Tuesday, January 29 vs. Golden State Warriors

Key January Games

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    Wednesday, January 9 vs. Atlanta Hawks

    The Hawks made their road to the playoffs much harder when the brass decided to ship perennial all-star swingman Joe Johnson over to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for essentially cap-space. Without the 6'7" shooting guard, the Hawks will now have to rely heavily on oft-disgruntled Josh Smith and Al Horford, who just came off a major pectoral injury.

    The Hawks are a team who could possibly fall out of the playoff race early. It would be nice to see the Cavs take advantage of this weak core.

    Saturday, January 19 @ Utah Jazz

    Capping off a five-game road trip with a win against the Jazz would surely be welcomed by the Cleveland Cavaliers. After facing the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers on this streak away from home, this bout against the Jazz may be their best oppurtunity to steal a win. 

    It would also be a thrill to watch the trio of Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller face the quadrumvirate of Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors.

    Tuesday, January 22 vs. Boston Celtics

    The Celtics gave the Cavaliers fits last year due to their depth and ability to control the tempo, as Cleveland dropped two out of last year's three meetings against Boston. This time around, though, it may be a different story.

    The Cavs are obviously headed on an upward path thanks to the progression of their prospects, while the Celtics are heading backwards due to the advanced age of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and the recently-acquired Jason Terry.

    A win against Boston would show the Cavaliers that they can compete against one of the East's best teams.

    January W-L Prediction: 9-5

    Wins: Kings (x2), Bobcats, Bulls, Hawks, Jazz, Celtics, Bucks, Raptors 

    Losses: Rockets, Nuggets, Lakers, Trail Blazers, Warriors

Previews and Predictions for January

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    Best one-on-one matchup of January

    Despite being drafted with the fourth overall pick in 2011, Tristan Thompson hasn't proved that he will develop into anything farther than a sixth man. The potential is definitely there, as this Canadian prodigy is quite athletic and skilled in the post, but there is still major refining that needs to be done to his overall game.

    Going up against Kevin Garnett, arguably the best power forward of this decade sans Tim Duncan, will be a good test to see if Thompson really is the power forward of the future for the Cavaliers.

    Cavaliers' best-case scenario for January

    January is almost certainly the easiest month for the Cavaliers. A majority of there competition this month won't have a fighting chance to acquire a playoff berth this season. It would not be out of the question to say the Cavs win 11 or 12 of their 14 games.

    Will they accomplish this feat? Probably not.

    Is it possible? Absolutely.

    Cavaliers' worst-case scenario for January

    If the Cavs don't take advantage of their easy schedule in the month of January, the team would eliminate themselves from the postseason race. This time period is where the Cavaliers should make a strong push for a spot.

    If they don't, then the team lost a golden opportunity. Going even in this month would be a downright failure to take advantage of their porous competition. 

February Schedule

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    -Friday, February 1 @ Detroit Pistons

    -Saturday, February 2 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

    -Wednesday, February 6 vs. Charlotte Bobcats

    -Friday, February 8 vs. Orlando Magic

    -Saturday, February 9 vs. Denver Nuggets

    -Monday, February 11 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

    -Wednesday, February 13 vs. San Antonio Spurs

    -Wednesday, February 20 vs. New Orleans Hornets

    -Saturday, February 23 @ Orlando Magic

    -Sunday, February 24 @ Miami Heat

    -Tuesday, February 26 @ Chicago Bulls

    -Wednesday, February 27 vs. Toronto Raptors

Key February Games

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    Saturday, February 2 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

    To start their seven-game homestand, the Cavaliers will face the tough task of taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder. This will be the second and last time these two organizations will meet in the 2013 regular season and there is sure to be a high-scoring affair. 

    Both of these teams are composed of young guns whose legs are still fresh and don't have many miles on them. If the Cavs could somehow topple the mighty Thunder expect major buzz to start swirling around Cleveland.

    Wednesday, February 20 vs. New Orleans Hornets

    Much like starting a homestand, teams want to finish strong also, which is what Cleveland will try to accomplish against the New Orleans Hornets. This will be the first time rookie sensation Anthony Davis travels to Cleveland and there is no doubt the prospects on Cleveland would love to upstage the power forward.

    Especially Kyrie Irving, who arguably deserved a spot on Team USA, but due to the lack of big man size on the roster, Anthony Davis received the spot.

    February W-L Prediction: 6-6

    Wins: Pistons, Bobcats, Magic (x2), Nuggets, Timberwolves 

    Losses: Thunder, Spurs, Hornets, Heat, Bulls, Raptors  

Previews and Predictions for February

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    Best one-on-one matchup of February

    Sure, a Dwight Howard-Tyler Zeller matchup would almost certainly be a one-sided affair, but it would be interesting to see how the former UNC standout performed against the league's most dominant center. 

    Howard, though, has struggled in the past against size and Zeller is a legit seven-footer, so you should not count the rookie out completely.

    This center duel will take place on February 23, barring any "Superman" deal.

    Cavaliers' best-case scenario for February

    February is quite a hard month for the Cavs, as the team faces the likes of the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs. The resurging New Orleans Hornets, deep Denver Nuggets and Chicago Bulls are also on the schedule in the month of February.

    Simply put, the Cavaliers should aim to win half of the 12 games during this time period.

    Cavaliers' worst-case scenario for February

    If there is one month the Cavaliers are going to completely collapse in, it is the month of February. Every team on schedule, despite the Charlotte Bobcats, will be a challenge to defeat.

    The Cavaliers can't afford to slip up in February if they want to obtain a coveted playoff berth.

March Schedule

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    -Friday, March 1 vs. Los Angeles Clippers

    -Monday, March 4 vs. New York Knicks

    -Wednesday, March 6 vs. Utah Jazz

    -Friday, March 8 vs. Memphis Grizzlies

    -Sunday, March 10 @ Toronto Raptors

    -Tuesday, March 12 vs. Washington Wizards

    -Friday, March 15 @ Dallas Mavericks

    -Saturday, March 16 @ San Antonio Spurs

    -Monday, March 18 vs. Indiana Pacers

    -Wednesday, March 20 vs. Miami Heat

    -Friday, March 22 @ Houston Rockets

    -Wednesday, March 27 vs. Boston Celtics

    -Friday, March 29 vs. Philadelphia 76ers

    -Sunday, March 31 @ New Orleans Hornets

Key March Games

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    Friday, March 8 vs. Memphis Grizzlies

    The Cleveland Cavaliers have a grand task ahead of them when the Memphis Grizzlies visit town on March 8. This may be a challenging game for the Cavs due to the large front line the Grizzlies boast of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

    Winning this game, though, would help give Cleveland some momentum to finish the season strong.

    Friday, March 29 vs. Philadelphia 76ers

    The Philadelphia 76ers are in a similar boat when it comes to the development of their roster. Other than Andre Iguodala, the roster is composed mostly of prospects. Additionally, they are another team vying to sneak into that eight spot in the Eastern Conference.

    A win against the 76ers would either help separate or tighten the race between these two organizations in favor of the Cavs, and hopefully begin giving the playoff picture more clarity.

    March W-L Prediction: 5-9

    Wins: Raptors, Wizards, Rockets, 76ers, Hornets 

    Losses: Clippers, Knicks, Jazz, Grizzlies, Mavericks, Spurs, Pacers, Heat, Celtics

Previews and Predictions for March

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    Best one-on-one matchup of February

    Cleveland's game on March 16 against the San Antonio Spurs is sure to have some intrigue, as Tony Parker and Kyrie Irving, two of the league's brightest point guards, will matchup in this epic duel.

    Parker has just hit his prime and has become the face of the San Antonio Spurs. Due to the advanced ages of Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, Parker became the primary contributor during their strong postseason run.

    Irving, on the other hand, is well on his way to becoming an elite point guard talent. No facilitator in this league has more potential than this young guard.

    You can be sure that this game will have some fantastic point guard play.

    Cavaliers' best-case scenario for March

    March is definitely no walk in the park for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but, if the team manages to catch fire, there is no denying Cleveland could break even.

    The franchise would have pull a few major upsets, but it is definitely a possibility.

    Cavaliers' worst-case scenario for March

    Other than the two games against the Wizards and Raptors respectively, the Cavaliers should not be considered the favorites to take home a win.

    Going 2-14 in the final stretch would be bad news for a team desperately trying to forget the LeBron James-era.

April Schedule

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    -Monday, April 1 @ Atlanta Hawks

    -Wednesday, April 3 vs. Brooklyn Nets

    -Friday, April 5 @ Boston Celtics

    -Sunday, April 7 vs. Orlando Magic

    -Tuesday, April 9 @ Indiana Pacers

    -Wednesday, April 10 vs. Detroit Pistons

    -Friday, April 12 vs. New York Knicks

    -Sunday, April 14 @ Philadelphia 76ers

    -Monday, April 15 vs. Miami Heat

    -Wednesday, April 17 @ Charlotte Bobcats

Key April Games

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    Monday, April 1 @ Atlanta Hawks

    This game marks the final time the Cavaliers will see the Hawks, and there is no doubting both of these teams desire a win to secure/fight for a playoff spot.

    The Eastern Conference's eighth seed may be up for grabs in this battle.

    Sunday, April 7 vs. Orlando Magic

    If Dwight Howard is still with the Magic, this game could be a tough one to grind out for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Other than Anderson Varejao and Tyler Zeller, coach Byron Scott doesn't have much size to counter-attack the All-NBA talent. 

    However, if a Howard blockbuster has already transpired, this should be an easy victory for the Cavs.

    April W-L Prediction: 9-1

    Wins: Hawks, Nets, Celtics, Magic, Pacers, Pistons, Knicks, Heat, Bobcats 

    Losses: 76ers

Previews and Predictions for April

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    Best one-on-one matchup of April

    Greg Monroe has the physical tools, skill set and demeanor to become the next great NBA center. The Piston is still a prospect, though, and will most likely need some time to refine his game. 

    A battle between Monroe and the Cavaliers' young center, Tyler Zeller, would be a sight to see, as both of these big men have promising careers ahead of them.

    Monroe may be more talented, but Zeller has a few inches and pounds on the Detroit star.

    Cavaliers' best-case scenario for April

    The Cavaliers will have an opportunity to go undefeated in April, strengthening their chances of obtaining a playoff berth. Due to the fact that many of the teams the Cavs are scheduled to play will most likely already know they have made the playoffs, the coaches of the aforementioned squads will probably sit their starting core. 

    Of course, their games against the Charlotte Bobcats, Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons will determine this fate.

    Cavaliers' worst-case scenario for April

    At the very least, the Cavaliers will walk away from April with four or five wins. If they were facing these teams a few months ago, it would be a completely different story, but even the league's best bench can't match up against the starting lineup of the Cavs.

Final Predictions

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    Final Record: 44-38

    The Cleveland Cavaliers will ultimately miss the playoffs by a narrow margin, but there is no denying that this was a step in the right direction after losing the most dominant player in the entire league.

    The young nucleus of Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller and Dion Waiters will continue to grow into a fearsome core, and this season will confirm this Cleveland dream.

    Heading into the offseason, though, the team will have a few roster questions to consider.

    The first one will be to find a definite second star. Waiters can score the ball consistently, but he does not contribute the all-star caliber play Cleveland desires to pair next to Irving.

    At this time in the NBA, a team needs at least two or three all-stars to consider themselves an elite squad. 

    Second, the franchise will need to completely rebuild the bench. The Cavs have one of the least productive second units in the entire Association, and their cap space next year will definitely help sure up those holes.

    And finally, the team needs to find a veteran presence to help guide these prospects. Letting Antawn Jamison walk was a mistake, as he is an established player who has always been a consummate professional.

    In the end, though, this roster just needs time to build chemistry. The Cavaliers are one of the youngest teams in the Association and there is no doubting that they are heading for a bright future.