Team Records: Portland (6-10) at Cleveland (4-12)
Game Info: 4:30 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.
Vegas Line: Portland -1.5
Refs: Ed Malloy, Mark Lindsay, Leon Wood.
The Skinny: The Blazers seem to be playing a game of “how can we manage to look and play worse than we did the previous game?” Every game it seems Portland finds new and excruciating ways to look awful. They get a chance to break that trend tonight as they face the short-handed Cavs in Cleveland. The Cavs come into this game fresh off a hard fought victory over the Hawks in Atlanta Friday.
Last season: The Blazers won the only meeting between the two teams, which took place in Portland.
Projected Cavaliers Lineup:
PF: Tristan Thompson (Texas, 2nd season) – 8.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.3 APG
SF: Alonzo Gee (Alabama, 4th season) – 11.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.1 APG
C: Anderson Varejao (Brazil, 9th season) – 14.5 PPG, 14.9 RPG, 3.2 APG
SG: Dion Waters (Syracuse, Rookie) – 15 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 2.9 APG
PG: Jeremy Pargo (Gonzaga, 2nd season) – 10.5 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 3 APG
Player to Watch: Anderson Varejao (pictured at right) – Even in the midst of another horrible start for the Cavs as a team, it is impossible to ignore what Anderson Varejao has done. Simply put, Varejao has become an absolute beast on both ends of the court, putting up massive numbers and keeping the Cavs in games they would otherwise lose handily. On offense, Varejao moves well without the ball and knows how to finish, even if he lacks a real post game. On defense, he is a high-energy annoyance and a pesky defender. More than anything else, however, he gobbles up rebounds like no one in the NBA outside of Kevin Love. He might have been consistently injured throughout his career but as long as he’s healthy, he’s pretty amazing.
Did You Know?: Cleveland was named the Cavaliers after a contest sponsored by the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. The other finalists were “Jays”, “Foresters” and “Presidents.”
Song of the Day: “It Sucks to Be Me” from the musical “Avenue Q”. It sucks to be a Blazer fan this past week but this song should serve to remind you that you’re not alone (and that others have it worse). Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliott Williams (Achilles)
Cleveland: Out – PG Kyrie Irving (Finger)
What do you get if you combine poor offense with almost as bad defense? Sadly the answer so far this season has been the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs have struggled mightily on both ends of the court, ranking near the bottom in both offensive and defensive efficiency. On offense, their shooting is slightly below average but their real problem is they don’t really share the ball and they turn it over way too much. On defense, the Cavs are, to put it politely, passive, allowing an even worse shooting % than the Blazers. Cleveland wins when they either have a really good night on offense or an abnormally good night on defense. Since that hasn’t happened much, they have struggled and the injury to rookie of the year Kyrie Irving just exacerbated the problem. Even with their win in Atlanta last night, the Cavs look to be headed nowhere fast.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They play as they are capable. Look, I don’t know what the hell the Blazers have been doing since the start of the fourth quarter of the Nets game but whatever it is, they need to stop it. The Cavs are not as good as Portland and if the Blazers show up as they are capable, they will win.
Cleveland wins if: They hold Portland under 90 points. Cleveland sucks on defense but the way Portland has been struggling on offense the past few games, does anyone want to be they actually hit 90? Me neither, if the Cavs can hold Portland below 90, they will win.