Offensive Efficiency: Knicks 104.0 (16th) vs. Cavs 108.1 (5th)
Defensive Efficiency: Knicks 106.3 (21st) vs. Cavs 99.5 (3rd)
-Another game against the team on the second game of a back-to-back. It’ll be tough for the Knicks to play their frenetic style with tired legs, especially since they’re playing an eight-man rotation.
-David Lee will be an interesting matchup with Shaq. He’s always made a living by getting garbage baskets around the rim with either hand, but this year he’s added a mid-range jumper he appears to have a lot of confidence in. It’ll be interesting to see if he can get Shaq out of the paint by knocking that shot down consistently and/or sneak around Shaq for offensive boards.
-Gallinari has become maybe the most dangerous offensive player on this team. The Cavs will have to keep an eye on him at all times and deny him any easy threes.
Offensive Efficiency: Miami 104.6 (15th) vs. Cleveland 108.0 (5th)
Defensive Efficiency: Miami 103.0 (12th) vs. Cleveland 99.6 (3rd)
-The Cavs did a really good job on Wade in the second half of the last game. Flash is coming off an 11-16 performance against the league’s best defense, and you know he’s eager to make up for his slip-ups down the stretch of the first meeting between these teams. The Cavs should stay patient, and try not to panic if he starts making deep jumpers. He’s capable of hitting a three or two, but he’s a 30% three-point shooter on the year and 29% for his career. Play the percentages.
-A good break for the Cavs in terms of scheduling. Miami is on the tail end of a back-to-back, and had to deal with Boston last night. Hopefully the Cavs can push and take advantage.
-Beasley gave Hickson some problems last time. Let’s see if JJ can do a better job sticking to him in this one.
-National game, LeBron vs. Wade, Cavs looking to push their winning streak to double-digits. Cavs should be amped for this one. Hopefully they’ll come out with a purpose and put themselves in the driver’s seat early.
-One thing I do worry about with no West or Williams is how the Cavs would react to playing without the lead. Yet another reason to come out of the locker room ready to play.
-Miami has a thin team, and struggles in the 2nd and fourth quarters. Hopefully the Cavs’ 2nd unit can keep the pressure on during the opening part of the 2nd and 4th.
Offensive Efficiency: Raptors 108.1 (4th) vs. Cavs 108.1 (5th)
Defensive Efficiency: Raptors 109.5 (30th) vs. Cavs 100.4 (4th)
-The Raptors have been hot over their last 10 games, but they still have the worst defense in the league. Cavs shouldn’t be afraid to try and score the ball in this one.
-Every possession Hickson guards Chris Bosh is asking for trouble.
-Last time these two teams played, the Cavs were still trying to use Shaq to set screens out on the perimeter. As a result, they got the worse of the Bargnani/Shaq mismatch. Let’s see if they’ve adjusted how they use Shaq for this one. A good measuring stick game for Shaq tonight.
-Jose Calderon does not play defense. An opportunity for Mo Williams to get out of his recent semi-funk tonight.
Offensive Efficiency: Cavs 107.9 (7th) vs. Clippers 102.4 (22nd)
Defensive Efficiency: Cavs 100.0 (4th) vs. Clippers 103.7 (15th)
Bummed I’m missing both of the Cavs’ trips to LA this year, especially because LeBron might drop 70 out of rage tonight, but alas, sometimes you just can’t get out of spending your birthday weekend in Vegas. (I’m actually writing this on Friday, before heading out the door.)
A reminder that Ryan Braun is your guest recapper tonight, so be nice.
The highest of possible recommendations for ClipperBlog, since it’s one of the best team blogs ever done, it’s run by our network’s editor, D.J. Foster has come on strong, and 3rd man Pedro Moura is a fellow USC student. Read Clipperblog.
Offensive Efficiency: Cavs 108.2 (5th) vs. Jazz 105.0 (13th)
Defensive Efficiency: Cavs 100.1 (4th) vs. Jazz 102.5 (11th)
-The Jazz are at home, coming off two straight nice wins, and got huge games out of both Deron and Boozer.
-When the Jazz have the ball, it’ll be interesting to see how the Cavs try to slow down Deron Williams. He’s one of those guys who can kill a team in a vast number of ways. He could be a nightmare matchup for Mo, so we’ll see if the Cavs try to use AP’s size on him or give Delonte extended minutes. Also, it’ll be interesting to see if the Cavs can get away with ignoring Ronnie Brewer to better defend Williams, either by aggressively helping off of him or trying to hide Mo on him.
-Very thin bench for Utah outside of Milsap. We’ll see if the Cavs’ second unit can do some damage in this one, especially now that Shaq’s joined it.
-Boozer could be too quick for Shaq, and might eat JJ alive. Slowing him down will be a priority.
-The Jazz love to get inside and score. The Cavs shut down the paint as well as any team in the league. Strength vs. Strength tonight in that regard, so let’s watch who wins the battle in the paint.
-Alright, open thread, and I’m doing the live Dime tonight, so make sure to stop by.
-I turn 21 in five hours. Let’s see if the Cavs can give me a birthday present tonight.
-When the Cavs have the ball, it’ll be interesting to see what the Jazz do with him. I’d imagine they’ll try to use Brewer’s length and quickness to guard James on the perimeter, and let AK-47 provide weak-side help when LeBron drives. If they do do that, this game would be a perfect time for LeBron to pick up where he left off from the post against Golden State. If they use AK on LeBron, we’ll see if he goes to the 15-18 foot range and tries to blow by him. Either way, deep catches for LeBron seem to be something the Cavs should be looking for in this one.
A huge, huge, HUGE recommendation for Salt City Hoops, because this site’s recent re-design was actually done by Spencer Hall, the head guy over there. If you like how much better this site looks now, he’s the guy to thank.
(I’m pretty sure I’ve posted that for a Warrior game before, and that I’m like the 4,000th blogger to do so. I still couldn’t not post it. It’s impossible to resist.)
Pace: Cavs 93.0 (28th) vs. Warriors 103.3 (1st, and the gap between them and the 2nd-fastest team in the league is the size of the gap between #2 and #8 in terms of pace.)
Offensive Efficiency: Cavs 108.1 (6th) vs. Warriors 103.2 (20th)
Defensive Efficiency: Cavs 99.9 (4th) vs. Warriors 108.2 (29th)
-The Warriors are dangerous. They’re dangerous to opponents, they’re dangerous to themselves, they’re dangerous to their fans, they’re dangerous to the sanctity of the all-time record for coaching wins. This is not a team to be overestimated, but they’re not to be looked past.
-They’re also playing well recently, with a controversial one-point loss on the road at Denver, a win over Minnesota, and a great comeback win over the Kings. They’re a team of runs, and they appear to be on a good one right now.
-Second game of a road back-to-back + fastest team in the NBA + LeBron playing 45 minutes last night = cause for concern. As ridiculous as the thought of LeBron tiring can seem, it could theoretically happen.
-Lots of Delonte in this one, please, because the Warriors have two starting guards who play the hole game, like to shoot, and can score the ball, particularly Monta Ellis.
-It’ll be interesting to see who LeBron guards at the beginning of this one, because if he starts of on Maggette, there’s serious risk of foul trouble, which the Cavs can’t abide. AP seems like a good defensive matchup because he’s a crafty defender who gets respect from the refs, but who do LeBron and Hickson mark at the beginning of the game?
-It’ll be interesting to see who gets the better of the Shaq/Warrior matchup; so far this season, the Cavs have been better adapting to mismatches rather than trying to cause them, so I’d expect limited minutes for Shaq, but he’s been effective lately and might be raring to go off against the Warrior frontcourt.
-Cavs like to give a lot of help, but they’ve got to keep a body on Anthony Morrow at all times. It’s beautiful to watch him shoot with his feet set.
-I’d like to give some sort of helpful analysis of what Anthony Randolph being hurt will mean for the Cavs in this one, but my brain is unable to get past how disappointed I am that I won’t get to watch Anthony Randolph play.
-Biedrins, who’s working his way back into the rotation after recovering from injury, might be the Warriors’ one chance to not get killed inside, and he did put in 22 solid minutes of work in the Sacramento game. Something to watch.
-If Jawad Williams wants to make himself a permanent fixture in the rotation, tonight’s his chance to shine as a stretch four.
Pace: Cleveland 93.2 (28th) vs. Portland 90.1 (30th)
Offensive Efficiency: Cleveland 107.6 (6th) vs. Portland 107.3 (7th)
Defensive Efficiency: Cleveland 99.6 (4th) vs. Portland 102.9 (14th)
-Both teams have good offenses, but like to slow the ball down and work the clock on every possession. It’ll be interesting to see if one team tries to break the script and look for some transition buckets in this one.
-In a blast from the past, the starting centers in this one are set to be Shaquille O’Neal and Juwan Howard. Howard had a strong second quarter the first time the Cavs and Blazers played each other and seems to be having a bit of a comeback year overall, but this is a matchup that Shaq should dominate early on.
-Martell Webster is a budding three-and-D guy in the Anthony Parker mold (good size, athletic, super-long arms, loves the corner three), and is coming off of holding Kobe to a 14-37 performance from the field. He’ll be checking LeBron and looking to make LeBron play a one-on-one game, so it’ll be important for LeBron to get to the rim on Webster early and not let him bait LeBron into a chess match on the perimeter.
-The bench has been good in the last few weeks or so, especially since Shaq joined the 2nd unit on Christmas, but the 2nd unit was a major issue against Denver. Meanwhile, young dynamo and Blazersedge favorite Jarryd Bayless had 21 points in 21 minutes on Friday against the Lakers. His minutes should match up with Delonte’s, and Bayless hasn’t been consistent thus far, but a Bayless mini-explosion while LeBron sits could present a problem.
-Speaking of Delonte, he’s the most logical guy to stick with B-Roy duty, but AP will have to try and check him for a lot of the game. He did well against Roy in the first meeting with the Blazers, but in this one he’ll have to do his best to stay in front of Roy, not let him live at the line, and hope B-Roy isn’t feeling it with his jumpers from the top of the circle off a hesitation dribble.
-On that point, have I gone on record in saying that LeBron’s new go-to midrange move, the pull-up 19-footer off one dribble, reminds me a lot of Roy’s game? Because it does. Roy’s much better on “true” midrange shots, though.
-At this point in his career, what’s the point of saying that the Cavs should try and force Andre Miller to shoot jumpers? This is not a state secret or a new development, but he’ll end up in the lane anyways.
-I’ve always felt that Aldridge’s offensive game was less effective than advertised, particularly the high-release jumper that he favors, but he’s been a Cav-killer in the past, and shouldn’t be allowed to get in a groove and start draining those turnarounds.
Double-extra recommended reading for this one:
Portland Roundball Society is the new blog on the network, and they’ve been doing a phenomenal job out of the gate, so be sure to check them out.
And Blazersedge is Blazersedge. They’re on an extremely short list of the very best team blogs around, and worth a read even when the Blazers aren’t playing the Cavs.
-First off: I’m up with a new MVP Race column for SLAM. Yeah, I threw Kobe a bone. There are worse things than throwing Kobe a bone when his play warrants it, and I liked playing with the idea of weighted performance. I still very much enjoy watching LeBron play.
-In other news, Bethlehem Shoals is leaving The Baseline. Look forward to seeing what he does next. In happy news, Cavs: The Blog favorite and former FreeDarko colleague Eric Freeman will now be writing for The Baseline. Congratulations to him.
Now, onto the game:
Pace: Cavs 93.1 (28th) vs. Nuggets 98.2 (5th)
Offensive Efficiency: Cavs 107.9 (6th) vs. Nuggets 109.0 (3rd)
Defensive Efficiency: Cavs 99.5 (4th) vs. Nuggets 104.3 (18th)
-According to the most recent reports, Billups will play tonight, ‘Melo is doubtful, and Lawson, Birdman, and Nene are all game-time decisions because of sprained ankles. Obviously, ‘Melo being out swings things in Cleveland’s favor, but Billups coming back will offset that somewhat.
-Pace will be a factor. Nuggets want to run, Cavs want to slow it down.
-Shaq at altitude. Yipes.
-Cleveland likes to play physical, and so does Denver’s Nene/K-Mart frontline. It’ll be interesting to see which frontcourt combinations MB uses to counter K-Mart’s above-average physicality and below-average shooting range.
-I WANTED TY LAWSON. I WANTED HIM SO VERY BADLY.
-Alright guys, see you tonight. I should be doing the live dime, so stop by and check it out. Until later.
Pace: Washington 96.8 (6th) vs. Cleveland 93.1 (28th)
Offensive Efficiency: Washington 101.6 (23rd) vs. Cleveland 107.3 (6th)
Defensive Efficiency: Washington 105.3 (20th) vs. Cleveland 99.4 (4th)
Well, we all know what the real story going into this game is. Gilbert Arenas has been suspended indefinitely for his gun-related escapades, and will not be playing in tonight’s game. Everyone and their cousins are going to chime in on this one, so I’ll leave it to those who know better to deliver opinions on the situation with Gilbert.
All I’ll say is that this is a sad development considering how promising Gilbert started off his career from a PR standpoint, becoming the prototype for superstar 2.o. We saw the old model of how superstars market themselves by revealing as little as possible about themselves and letting their fans fill in the blanks fall apart spectacularly in the case of Tiger Woods. Now the first “blog superstar” has fallen from grace.
On Delonte West playing and Gilbert not, the issue seems to be that Gilbert broke league rules by bringing a gun to practice and being flippant towards the league in his subsequent interviews and actions. Delonte’s crimes were probably more serious, but they’re not league infractions, as Mike Prada noted earlier today.
Not to be too callous, but don’t be surprised if the Wizards roll off a pretty nice stretch of basketball over the next week or so. The team could unify over this and get motivated, and what’s more, Gil wasn’t his old self this season. He never got his quickness back, especially on defense, and the team’s actually played better with him off the floor up to this point. With a bad team and a fairly small sample size, that’s far from infallible, but it’s safe to say that Gilbert was not playing like his old self.
Add that to how motivated the Wizards always get to play the Cavaliers and the adrenaline dump teams get in the first game after losing a star, and I think the Wizards are dangerous in this one. Okay, I think every team is dangerous in every game. But seriously.
Colin McGowan is the editor in chief of Cavs: The Blog. He has written for Deadspin, The Classical, and ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cs_mcgowan.
Kevin Hetrick is a contributing editor at Cavs: the Blog. He is a civil engineer who grew up in Northeast Ohio as a fan of the Cavs, Indians, and Browns. He now lives in Indianapolis. His email is email@example.com, and he's on Twitter at @hetrick46.
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Robert Attenweiler is a staff writer at Cavs: The Blog. Originally from OH, he's long made his home in NYC where he writes plays and screenplays (www.disgracedproductions.com) some of which end up being about Ohio, basketball or both. He has also written for The Classical and the blog Raising the Cadavalier. You can contact him at email@example.com or @cadavalier.
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