A winnable game
The Portland Trail Blazers are fighting for a playoff spot in a tough Western Conference, and when winnable games present themselves, Rip City has to take full advantage.
Matchup: Portland (20-18) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (9-31)
Venue: Rose Garden Arena
Time: 7:00 PM PT
Date: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013
The Blazers are hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night, and if all goes according to plan, Portland should be the ones capturing the ‘W.’
Game Notes/How They Match Up
The Blazers and the Cavs are two teams who have gone through recent monumental changes. Both rosters have a drastically different feel than they did a few years back, but it’s the Blazers who have a legitimate chance at the postseason.
Cleveland was a borderline playoff team last year, and a lot of people expected them to come back strong. They’ve been a major disappointment, though, as they bring the second-worst record in the NBA with them into their matchup with Portland.
The Trail Blazers, on the other hand, have exceeded the expectations that most put on them. If you thought this team would be where it is today, you were in the minority.
These two teams have big questions surrounding their futures, but it’s clear at this point that the Blazers are a step ahead of Cleveland in the rebuilding process.
What to Watch: Portland
The last time these two teams met, the Trail Blazers escaped with one of the more exhilarating victories of the 2012-13 season. The game went to double-overtime, Nicolas Batum nailed the game-winning three-pointer and the team broke its losing streak in the middle of an ugly road trip.
This time around, however, the Blazers are a whole new ball club, and they need to show the Cavs what they’re capable of right from the get-go.
The Blazers were outscored in the first quarter, as they were giving up easy looks and failing to complete their own. It wasn’t exactly a comeback victory, as the Cavs let Portland back in it in the second period, but the team from Portland didn’t make it easy on themselves with the sluggish start.
If Portland wants to show that they’re a different class than the Cavs, they’ll have to come out of the gate with an energy and an efficiency that proves it.
What to Watch: Cleveland
For the Cavaliers, the question night in and night out is, who is going to help Kyrie Irving?
Cleveland’s floor general is averaging a team-high 23 points per game, and the only other players posting more than 12 points a contest are Anderson Varejao and Dion Waiters. With Varejao injured and Waiters plagued by inconsistency, it’s tough to know just where the secondary scoring is going to come from.
If Portland is lucky—or better yet, if they lock down on defense—Irving will be forced to win this game on his own.
The Cavaliers have been one of the worst teams in the NBA this season, which is a surprise when you think about their superstar point guard, Kyrie Irving.
Irving is the kind of player who can both score and set up his teammates. He is more of a shooter than a distributor at this point in his career, but he is dangerous in both half-court and fast-break situations when it comes to finding open shooters.
Does this remind you of anyone?
Damian Lillard has a lot of similar qualities when it comes to Irving. He is a threat to take over a game on any given night, and he’s proven he can be a No. 1 option when the game plan calls for it.
When these two face off at the Rose Garden, it will be the focus of the night. But if all goes according to plan, the national media will have their eyes on these youngsters for years to come.
Portland: OUT—Meyers Leonard
Cleveland: OUT—Anderson Varejao, DAY-TO-DAY—Daniel Gibson
This is one of the more winnable games the Blazers have had recently, and they’ll take care of business if they truly have their eyes on the 2013 playoffs.