Cleveland Cavaliers (24-19) vs Portland Trail Blazers (26-18)
Rose Garden, Portland, OR
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
ESPN/FSN OH/WUAB, WTAM
Next up for the Cavaliers, they travel to the Pacific NorthWest to take on one of the most surprising and most improved teams in the NBA, the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers went on a 13 game winning streak earlier this season to move into place as a surprise contender in the always competitive Western Conference. Now the Cavs come in as the hot team, having won 12 of their last 15 games dating back to Christmas.
-G Larry Hughes (9.8 ppg, 2.3 apg, 31.5% 3-pt, 9.55 PER)
-G Ira Newble (3.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 0.3 apg, 11.38 PER)
-F LeBron James (29.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 7.3 apg, 30.13 PER)
-F Drew Gooden (11.5 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 0.6 bpg, 12.91 PER)
-C Zydrunas Ilgauskas (13.7 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 18.97 PER)
Portland Trail Blazers:
-G Steve Blake (7.4 ppg, 4.7 apg, 0.8 spg, 13.26 PER)
-G Brandon Roy (19.4 ppg, 5.6 apg, 34.1% 3-pt, 20.00 PER)
-F Martell Webster (10.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.5 apg, 12.35 PER)
-F LaMarcus Aldridge (17.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 18.00 PER)
-C Joel Przybilla (4.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.1 bpg, 12.34 PER)
Team Efficiency Stats
-Offense (97.3 ppg, 44.6 rpg, .438 FG%, .722 FT%, 19.5 apg, Efficiency-102.0, Rank-17)
-Defense (98.1 ppg, 41.2 rpg, .460 FG%, Efficiency-103.4, Rank-15)
Portland Trail Blazers:
-Offense (96.5 ppg, 40.1 rpg, .457 FG%, .768 FT%, 21.5 apg, Efficiency-105.0, Rank-13)
-Defense (95.8 ppg, 42.0 rpg, .444 FG%, Efficiency-104.1, Rank-20)
The Cavaliers have turned into road warriors as of late. They’ve won 4 straight road games and are 8-4 on the road against Western Conference opponents. The Blazers, meanwhile, are an exciting young team. If you’re a basketball fan, how could you not be excited for this matchup. On paper, these are 2 pretty evenly matched teams. The Blazers, perhaps because of their relative youth and close chemistry, are a team full of role players who play together extremely well and are lead by 2 young stars in Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge. They move the ball well and create easy shots for one another. The Cavaliers defense is going to be key in this game. To win, the Cavs must rely on their team defense and play the passing lanes well. The Blazers also have some size to help them on the boards against the Cavaliers. A couple key guys off the Blazers bench will be Channing Frye, Travis Outlaw, and James Jones. All 3 are forwards who will look to exploit the Cavs’ lack of front court depth in this game.
For the Cavs, they must find ways to deal with the injuries to Sasha Pavlovic and Andy Varejao, who are both out. The return of Donyell Marshall could help (gulp), but the bench is definitely going to have to find ways to step up. Daniel Gibson must be active and find some shots, and Devin Brown will need to have a big game also if the Cavs are going to overcome the loss of Varejao. Larry Hughes has been playing solid basketball the last couple games, and it will be interesting to see if he can keep this play up. Big Z is coming off back to back double-doubles and he has 20 of them on the season. If he has another, and if Hughes plays another good game, and LeBron is himself, the Cavaliers will be tough to beat in this game. The Blazers are a very good offensive team and the Cavs have been playing better defense. This is where the game will be won or lost. Whichever side is better able to impose their game on that end will most likely come out on top.