Trail Blazers vs Cavaliers Saturday, 12/01/12 AT 04:30PM

Trail Blazers Face Cavs On World Aids Day

12/01/12
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    After losing their fourth straight game and the fifth straight on the road, the Trail Blazers (6-10) continue forward as they are in Cleveland to face the Cavaliers (4-12) tonight.  The game will tip-off at 4:30 PM and will be shown on CSNNW. It can be heard on radio on 620 KPOJ and the coverage of the game will continue as normal on 1190 KEX after their coverage of the Oregon State football game has ended. Also, as December 1st is World Aids Day, all 28 NBA and NBA D-League teams playing today will be wearing red-and-white shooting shirts as well as red headbands and wristbands while coaches will wear red ribbons as part of the NBA's show of support in the fight against HIV/AIDS .

        •    The secret to the Trail Blazers' offensive success is out and now the Trail Blazers must counter back. When pick and rolls plays are finished by the ball handler (Portland's second most used type of offensive play), the Trail Blazers are third in the NBA in points per possession according to mySynergy Sports Technology. Portland's offense hasn't been what has let them down most of the year but when it  comes to aspects of their offense, there is nothing the Trail Blazers do better than the pick and roll and much of that has to do with Damian Lillard. The only other plays where they rank in the top 10 in points per possession are transition (6th in PPP) and hand-offs (5th in PPP). The Celtics sold out against the pick and roll and Lillard to force the ball out of his hands. Coach Stotts talked after the game about Portland's other players coming to Lillard's aid in those situations to give him outlets. Until the Trail Blazers can make other team's pay for selling out against Lillard in 3-on-2 or 4-on-3 scramble situations after the double-teams hit, the offense will continue to sputter. Anderson Varejao is at or near Garnett's level defensively and it would be a surprise to nobody if Varejao and Cavs' coach Byron Scott employ the same strategy Garnett and the Celtics did last night.
        
    •    Obviously if there are more double-teams, the other players that share the floor with Lillard will have to create more. Nicolas Batum, who has extremely improved his passing acumen, might be the man to turn to be an outlet for Lillard. Dane Carbaugh of A Young Sabonis pointed out how much better Batum's assist numbers have been this year. He is currently averaging one assist more than his career average and his assist percentage has jumped from 7.9 last year to 14.1 this year. His career-high for a season is 8.1. According to mySynergy Sports Technology, when the defense commits to the pick and roll ball handler and they pass out, the Trail Blazers only average .846 points per possession, good for 25th in the NBA. If they are to find offensive success again that they seem to have lost in the last two games, they have to improve in this area. Then again, just getting stops and getting out into transition would help a lot, too.
        
    •    The big time match-ups for LaMarcus Aldridge haven't stopped this trip. Tonight is no different as he is facing Anderson Varejao. Varejao has been one of the league's best power forwards and has single-handedly kept Cleveland competitive since Kyrie Irving went down with injury. In snapping a four-game losing streak last night, Varejao had 20 points, 18 rebounds and three assists. Varejao is averaging 14.9 points, 15.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game in easily his best statistical season thus far.
        
    •    Can the bench find some kind of momentum? In the fourth quarter of last night's blow out loss, with the second game of a back-to-back on the horizon, Terry Stotts let Portland's young guys get major run in the fourth quarter. Meyers Leonard and Will Barton all performed well, as they have at times during this road trip and Joel Freeland had his best outing thus far as an NBA player. Our own Casey Holdahl spoke with Barton and Freeland about how they have to approach their roles on the bench and how to take advantage of the time they are given by Coach Stotts. Having Portland's young reserves find some confidence and learn how to adjust to the speed of the NBA on this road trip could be something that helps the Trail Blazers in the long term even if the results now are not so fruitful.

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