CLEVELAND — All that’s standing in the way of the Cavaliers tying their franchise-record 13-game winning streak is a victory against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
The Kings, at 7-16, are the fourth consecutive team Cleveland’s faced with a losing record and only two teams — Detroit and Philadelphia — among the 12 in a row the Cavs have knocked off were above .500 as of Tuesday.
So there could be a fool’s gold element to Cleveland’s current streak, but the Cavs are not operating at full strength. Isaiah Thomas has yet to play a game because of his hip injury. Tristan Thompson hasn’t returned from his cal injury suffered Nov. 1, but the team thinks he could return this week, according to Cleveland.com.
Iman Shumpert is out two months after knee surgery. And Derrick Rose’s ankle problems actually caused him to leave the team and consider retirement, although he is reportedly on the verge of returning.
And yet, here are the Cavaliers, the NBA’s hottest team.
“We’re where we want to be today and that’s all we can focus on,” LeBron James said. “Tomorrow is another day for us to get better and then Wednesday we have another opponent coming into our building. So, we’re where we want to be right now.”
The Cavs (17-7) have scored at least 100 points in 17 consecutive games for the first time since the 1988-89 season. Twice, the franchise has reached 13 consecutive wins (in 2009 and the following season in 2010).
Dwyane Wade scored 24 off the bench in Monday’s 113-91 win over Chicago. He’s sixth in the league in bench scoring (12.9 points per game) and has scored in double figures in seven consecutive games. Wade told Cleveland.com he does not wish to return to the starting lineup this season.
James has shot .500 or better from the field in 11 consecutive games and in 22 of 24 contests this season. He posted a triple double (24 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists) when the Cavs beat the Kings on Jan. 25 in Cleveland last season.
Kevin Love is averaging 26.8 points and 12.3 boards over his last four games and has registered a double-double in 17 of 24 career games against the Kings.
Sacramento’s top scorer this season is Zach Randolph (13.9 points per game), who came off the bench for the first time this year in the Kings’ last game — a 109-104 loss to Milwaukee on Saturday.
The Kings are 29th in the league in scoring and offensive efficiency. Only Chicago is worse.
George Hill, the Kings’ key free agent acquisition, is averaging just 8.9 points after scoring a career best 16.9 points per game with Utah last season.
“It’s going to be a roller coaster for us, up and down, with playing time, shots may not be going in and trying to figure out different styles and different combinations of guys on and off the court,” Hill said, according to the Sacramento Bee. “It’s going to be a long season and we know that. We’ve just got to keep chipping away at it and find out how we can be better every day.”
The Kings beat the Cavs, 116-112 in overtime on Jan. 25 in Cleveland.