“We did not do much defensively tonight, and that has been the key to turning our season around,” guard J.J. Redick said following Monday’s victory. “Since that second Golden State game (a 124-117 loss Nov. 19), I believe we have had a top-five defense. That has really been the key to our success over the last six to eight weeks.“Going forward, Cleveland has a lot of matchup problems. They are a great team. They are a great offensive team. This is a very, very hard trip for us. We play five really good teams, four teams that are currently in the playoffs and New York that is currently trying to make the playoffs.”The trip continues Friday in New York (21-22), followed by Toronto (26-15) on Sunday, Indiana (23-19) on Tuesday and culminating Wednesday in Atlanta (25-17).Griffin’s returnBlake Griffin has missed 11 consecutive games with a partially torn left quad tendon. Griffin is expected to return on this trip and Redick would love it to be against Cleveland. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error One of the themes behind the recent surge by the L.A. Clippers has been better defense.During their recent 10-game winning streak, the Clippers allowed opponents an average of only 96.6 points while the Clippers averaged 108.2 on offense. That’s an impresssive differential of 11.6.The defense has since taken a couple of hits. The Clippers gave up 110 points to the Sacramento Kings in a loss Saturday that broke the Clippers’ winning streak, and they gave up 132 during their overtime victory over the Houston Rockets on Monday — and 122 of those came during regulation.The Clippers (27-14) realize that can’t continue, especially on this five-game East Coast swing that begins Thursday night at Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland. “Hopefully we get 32 (Griffin) back on this trip,” he said. “That is what we are looking forward to. We have a good test coming up Thursday night in Cleveland.”Griffin as an All-StarWhen Griffin recently spoke the reporters for the first time since his injury, he was asked if he believes his inactivity was hurting his standing in the All-Star voting.“I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe.”He was asked if he cares.“No,” he said. “No, I don’t.”The most recent voting numbers were shared by the NBA on Jan. 14. Griffin was in fifth place among frontcourt players in the Western Conference. Chris Paul was third among backcourt players. The starters will be announced at 4 p.m. Thursday during a one-hour special on TNT.Scouting the CavaliersCleveland was walloped 132-98 by the high-flying Golden State Warriors on Monday. The Cavaliers took a 28-11 record into their game Wednesday at Brooklyn.LeBron James leads Cleveland with a 25.2 scoring average, which is fifth in the league. He also leads the team with a 6.0 assists average. Point guard Kyrie Irving is averaging 16.3 points and 3.8 assists.
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