Cleveland Cavaliers (5-5) vs. New Orleans Hornets (9-1)
Offensive Efficiency: Cleveland 101.2 (22nd) vs. New Orleans 107.0 (8th)
Defensive Efficiency: Cleveland 105.0 (20th) vs. New Orleans 98.1 (4th)
Pace: Cleveland 94.8 (18th) vs. New Orleans 92.7 (25th)
– This one could get bad. Mo still out (edit: he’s expected to play tonight), team on the road, Hornets playing really great basketball. The Cavs are currently .500, but according to Hollinger’s rankings they’ve had the easiest schedule in the league thus far. Now it’s time to see what this team is really made of.
– There’s no real way to stop Chris Paul. He’s too fast, too good of a ballhandler, too good of a shooter, too good of a passer, and too good of a finisher to shut down. The best the Cavs can do is show hard on those pick-and-rolls and then recover back to the bigs like their lives depend on it — even if they do that, they’ll need some luck to stop Paul from killing them. Paul is my clear MVP choice at this point in the season, and there’s a reason why.
– The Hornets flat-out play defense. They love to collapse on you at the free-throw line area, and only Orlando allows less buckets at the rim per game. (Kind of a fun fact, when you consider that Howard and Okafor helm both paint defenses). The Cavs have to move that ball and hit some shots from outside — no isolation, and please limit the Sessions-ball.
– The Cavs’ advantage over this team is speed — Ariza’s a great athlete, and Paul is a freak, but if the Cavs swarm and recover on defense and move, move, move, move on offense, they could frustrate the Hornets and bridge some of that talent gap. I’m just hoping for a tough performance from the Cavs tonight, but this is basketball and anything can happen — remember Boston? See you after the game.