Cavs Head to The Moda Center For a Shootout with The Blazers
Matchup: Cleveland Cavaliers (1-1) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (1-2)
Where: Moda Center, Portland
When: 10:00 ET
Cleveland Cavaliers (Depth Chart):
PG: Kyrie Irving, Matthew Dellavedova, Will Cherry (summer league standout)
SG: Dion Waiters, Mike Miller, Joe Harris
SF: LeBron James, Shawn Marion, James Jones
PF: Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Lou Amundson
C: Anderson Varejao, Brendan Haywood, Alex Kirk
Portland Trail Blazers (Depth Chart):
PG: Damien Lillard, Steve Blake
SG: Wesley Matthews, Will Barton, CJ McCollum, Allen Crabbe
SF: Nicolas Batum, Dorell Wright, Victor Claver
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge, Thomas Robinson
C: Robin Lopez, Chris Kamen, Joel Freeland, Meyers Leonard
Key Matchup: Kevin Love vs. LaMarcus Aldridge
The Cleveland Cavaliers (1-1), coming off a highly emotional fist fight win over the Chicago Bulls, head to Portland for a shootout with the Portland Trail Blazers (1-2). Portland is coming off a tough loss to the Golden State Warriors at home and is looking to bounce back. If you like offense, this game is the matchup for you. The Cavs and the Trail Blazers are in the bottom half in the league in defense and in the top half of the league in offense. Last season Portland, led by PG Damien Lillard and PF LaMarcus Aldridge, was 4th in the NBA in scoring. The Trail Blazers have basically the same roster as a year ago. For a Cavs team that has struggled so far this season on the defensive end, it is important to limit second chances, and limit the two man pick-and-roll/pop game between Lillard and Aldridge. As for the Cavs offense, the big three led by LeBron James look to continue to gell in David Blatt’s system and try to get everyone involved on the offensive end.
PF Kevin Love vs. PF LaMarcus Aldrige: the Key Matchup. Love and Aldridge are considered the top two power forwards in the NBA. Each has incredible offensive prowess. Each can play in the post, shoot mid-range and the three, and run a quality pick-and-roll/pop game. Both are relatively poor on the defensive end of the floor, which presents a question. Who is going to stop whom? The one that stops the other will probably give his team the best chance to win. PG Kyrie Irving vs. PG Damien Lillard is also an important matchup, once again because the two are dynamic scorers, but this matchup is less important to the game’s outcome.
Last season the Trail Blazers came into Cleveland and Lillard hit a game winning buzzer beater over Alonzo Gee. Just in cased you missed it, here it is. The Cavs are seeking revenge, in part for this:
In this game the benches will also play a huge role in deciding the victor. On paper, the Cavs have a much better bench than Portland. The Cavs will try to take advantage on the offensive end with the lack of defense for the Trail Blazers off the bench. The Cavs will throw out Delly, Mike Miller, Shawn Marion, and Tristan Thompson as their main bench unit. The Blazers will throw out Steve Blake, Will Barton, Dorell Wright, Thomas Robinson, and Chris Kamen. If the Cavs can win the rebounding battle off the bench, the second unit will have success during the game. It all comes down to the lineups that David Blatt and Terry Stotts throw on the floor and the matchups created by the lineups.
The Trail Blazers this season have beaten the Kevin Durantless Thunder, lost badly to the Sacramento Kings, and lost a close game to the Warriors on Sunday. For the Trail Blazers, the goal is to run the floor, keep the tempo up to create turnovers and easy fast break opportunities, and use their outside shooting to pull out the win against the Cavs. For LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the goal is to slow the tempo in the half court offense, get everyone involved on the offensive end, and slow down the dynamic duo of Aldridge and Lilliard. My prediction: Cavs over Portland, 110-102.