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.