Sixers Take on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers

What to know, who's playing and why Kevin Love could be big trouble for Nerlens Noel.

Superstars LeBron James and Kevin Love will play tonight when the Philadelphia 76ers take on the Cleveland Cavaliers | Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Superstars LeBron James and Kevin Love will play tonight when the Philadelphia 76ers take on the Cleveland Cavaliers | Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers (0-2) will take on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers (2-1) tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.

According to reports, James and Kevin Love will play tonight for the Cavaliers. Point guard Kyrie Irving is still working his way back from a knee injury suffered during the playoffs last season. Irving has been ramping up his workload in practice but does not yet have a timetable on his return.

After dropping their first game of the season against Chicago, the Cavaliers responded with a 30-point rout of the Grizzlies in Memphis, and followed that up with a home win over Miami. James scored 29 points to go along with 5 rebounds and 4 assists in the win over his former club.

The Sixers will get some reinforcements tonight, as forward Robert Covington, who missed the first two games of the season with a sprained knee, will make his first appearance of the season. Nik Stauskas, who missed all of the preseason with a stress reaction in his tibia, made his season and Sixers debut on Friday. Stauskas and Covington will start at shooting guard and small forward, respectively, giving Okafor and Noel some much-needed floor spacing.

The Details:

What: Sixers vs Cavaliers

Where: Wells Fargo Center

When: Monday, November 2nd, 7 PM

Watch: Comcast SportsNet

Projected Starting Lineups:

Sixers: Isaiah Canaan, Nik Stauskas, Robert Covington, Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor

Cavs: Mo Williams, J.R. Smith, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Timofey Mozgov

(Note: Official starting lineups are released about an hour prior to tipoff).

Injury Report:

Joel Embiid (out, right foot), Kendall Marshall (out, right ACL), Tony Wroten (out, right ACL), Carl Landry (out, wrist), Robert Covington (probable, sprained knee).

About The Opponent:

Little introduction is needed for the Cleveland Cavaliers who, after a whirlwind summer last year, ended up with a core containing LeBron James (free agent), Kevin Love (traded for a package including No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins), and Kyrie Irving.

The Cavaliers rounded out their starting lineup by acquiring Timofey Mozgov for two first round picks in early January. The Cavaliers went 34-12 after the trade, the second-best record in the NBA during that span.

Injuries derailed the Cavaliers in last year’s finals. Kevin Love injured his shoulder during the opening round and was not available in the finals. Kyrie Irving tried to play through a knee injury but was only able to play in one game for the Cavs. The result was LeBron James averaging 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game for the Cavaliers on a 40.8% usage rate.

Love had a relatively down year for the Cavaliers last year. Love went from averaging 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game for the Wolves to 16.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game for the Cavaliers. Love has bounced back to form so far this year, averaging 19.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game so far while attempting over 7 three point attempts per night. That three-point shooting and passing will present an interesting challenge for Nerlens Noel, who will be tasked with sticking Love on the perimeter. Love is one of the few power forwards with the ability to not only pull Noel away from the lane but also with the playmaking ability to truly take advantage of that himself.

What To Look For:

With the Sixers getting Robert Covington back, along with Stauskas last game, the Sixers are finally getting their perimeter shooting back. That shooting should help Jahlil Okafor operate down low.

Outside of the play of Okafor, and how well Stauskas and Covington return to form after missing time with their injuries, this will be an interesting test for Nerlens Noel on the perimeter. Perimeter power forwards who have not only the ability to pull Noel away from the hoop but also make good decisions with the basketball are the most effective neutralizer to Noel’s incredible ability to change a game defensively. Combine that with LeBron’s ability to slash to the hoop and this is an incredibly difficult defensive challenge for this young Sixers team.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown told reporters before the game that he was going to start Nik Stauskas and Robert Covington at shooting guard and small forward, respectively. Covington, who is appearing in his first game of the season, is on a minutes restriction, with Brown aiming to play him around 24-26 minutes. Brown said Stauskas, who is making his second appearance of the season, will play as many minutes as his conditioning will allow. Stauskas missed the entire preseason due to a stress reaction in his right tibia.

Update: 5:36 PM: Updated the preview to include the new information that Nik Stauskas and Robert Covington will start.

Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine’s new Sixers Post. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.