Pre-Game Thoughts
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  1. DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 12/11/2009 11:52 AM

    The 14-9 Portland Trail Blazers head to the "Q" to take on the 15-7 Cleveland Cavaliers as their 3rd game of this 4 game road trip. Normally, a 15-7 record is considered to be pretty good, but for a team with as much expectations as the Cavaliers had going into this season, so far, they have been a major disappointment. Already, they have lost as many games at home as they had the previous season and have been getting shellacked the past two games against Memphis and Houston on the road. What does this all mean for the Trail Blazers? It could mean one of two things. First, Cleveland could still come out in a funk and continue their sloppy, erratic play. The other side of the coin could see Cleveland come out like gangbusters, trying to halt their two game losing streak and get out of their funk.

    The pessimist inside of me wants to believe that Cleveland will run their offense right through Shaq to start the game, get Joel in foul trouble and then let Shaq feast on Aldridge or Howard. Once we make the adjustment to double Shaq, then that is where either Mo Williams gets loose from downtown or LeBron takes over on the national stage. On the other hand, the optimist reminds me how well we played in Cleveland last year, without LaMarcus Aldridge, and against a Cavs team that was playing much better than they are now. Hopefully Cleveland overlooks our team because they can see we only have 9 players, no head coach, and have been decimated by injuries and we can sneak up on them and steal a victory in a hostile environment.

    With Batum out, these were the exact matchups I feared. I know not one single player can stop LeBron, let alone contain him, but Nic has the length and athleticism to at least bother him. If Portland wants any chance to win this game, it will take a little bit of strategy and a little bit of luck. I've noticed that when we give up 50+ points in the paint, we almost always come out on the short end of the stick, and any team that features Shaq and LeBron is a threat to score at will in the paint. What I suggest is to play off the Cavs and force them to beat us from the perimeter. It is a bit of a gamble as they are 2nd in the NBA in 3 point percentage at 42.3%, which is why I say it could take a little luck to get it done tonight. Obviously, the team should stay up on Daniel Gibson, Mo Williams, and Anthony Parker as they aren't threats to do much else than rain threes. The key to the game is to make LeBron beat us by shooting jump shots. He can do it and he has done it against us in the past, but you have to live with jump shots instead of free throw attempts and dunks.

    I think Portland will play better than most expect. Just as we have no answer for Shaq and James, they have no answer for Roy and Aldridge. This time, if we get LMA rolling early again, we need to continue to go back to him and not shy away from giving him the ball in the post like we did against Indiana. Roy is also going to have to have another All-Star performance as he may have to match LeBron bucket for bucket. In the end, I think Cleveland just has too much talent and will wear us out in the 4th quarter. James is nearly impossible to stop and can get to the foul line at will. My biggest fear is Shaq getting Joel out of the game early, and if that happens, watch out, because the floodgates will be open. Outside of Roy and Aldridge, keeping Przybilla in the game is the mot important facet of the game.

    Game 24 Prediction: Trail Blazers 92 Cavaliers 103
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