#709 Cleveland Cavaliersvs.#710 Portland Trailblazers
Written by Chris Kubala
Cleveland Cavaliers (28-8 SU, 16-18-2 ATS, 19-17 O/U) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (16-23 SU, 16-23 ATS, 24-15 O/U)
NBA: Wednesday, January 11, 2017, Moda Center at the Rose Quarter, Portland, Oregon, 10:30 pm ET
Line: Cleveland -3.5; Over/Under: 220
It’s an inter-conference tilt between teams seeing their seasons go in opposite directions in the Pacific Northwest. The Cleveland Cavaliers continue a road trip out west as they battle the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday night. Cleveland was in action Tuesday night in Salt Lake City as they took on the Jazz. Portland was in action Tuesday night in the City of Angels as they took on the Lakers. The Trail Blazers hold a 66-52 all-time series lead but the Cavaliers have won three of the last four matchups. That includes a 137-125 win at home in the first matchup this season on November 23, 2016.
Cleveland had been on a roll with five wins in their last six entering Tuesday’s game with the Jazz. The Cavaliers held the top spot in the Eastern Conference by 4.5 games over Toronto and were 10 games ahead of ninth place Milwaukee, solidly establishing themselves in the playoff picture. Cleveland had a nine game edge in the Central Division with Indiana their closest pursuer. The Cavaliers have recorded a 10-5 road record this season and had gone 8-2 against the Western Conference this season. There’s been no letdown for Cleveland so far this year. Kyle Korver, acquired late last week from Atlanta, was expected to make his team debut Tuesday night.
The Cavaliers enter this contest 4th in the league in scoring with 110.3 points per game. Cleveland is 11th in rebounding with 44.3 caroms a night while the team stands 17th with 21.8 assists per contest. The Cavaliers are in the middle of the pack defensively, ranking 12th in scoring defense by allowing 103.6 points per game. Kyrie Irving is currently second on the team with 24.3 points plus 5.9 assists per game. LeBron James averages a team-high 26.2 points while collecting 7.9 boards and dishing 8.3 assists per game while Kevin Love is good for 21.8 points plus 10.9 boards per contest. Channing Frye averages 9.7 points per contest. Richard Jefferson, J.R. Smith (8.6 ppg), James Jones, Iman Shumpert and Tristan Thompson are some of the rotation guys that can step up and have a big game. Smith had right thumb surgery recently and is expected to miss extended time. Cleveland is 12th in the league by shooting 45.8 percent from the field. The Cavaliers are 2nd in the league in made threes with 12.9 triples a night while ranking 2nd in three point shooting by shooting 38.9 percent from downtown.
Portland was in action against the Lakers Tuesday night hoping that they could put together back to back wins. The Trail Blazers entered that game hanging on for dear life to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Portland was 16.5 games behind the conference-leading Warriors and stood seven games behind Utah and Oklahoma City, who shared the Northwest Division lead. The Trail Blazers have gone 10-8 at home this season but had posted just a 4-7 mark against Eastern Conference foes. In fact, if you threw out Portland’s 5-1 division mark, they are 11-22 against the rest of the league.
Portland comes into this one 5th in the league in scoring with 108.2 points per game. The Trail Blazers are 26th in the league in rebounding as they collect 42 boards a night. Portland is 15th in the league in assists with 22.2 per contest. The Trail Blazers are below average defensively as they come in third worst in the league by allowing 111.5 points a night. Damian Lillard is far and away the go-to guy for the Blazers as he rings up 26.6 points per game while dishing out 6.3 assists per contest. C.J. McCollum (23.6 points) and Maurice Harkless (11.7 points) are both scoring in double figures for the Blazers. Al-Farouq Aminu, Mason Plumlee (11.3 points, 7.6 rebounds), Allen Crabbe (10.7 points) and Evan Turner all contribute at least 5.9 points a night for Portland’s attack. Portland is tied for 9th in the league in field goal percentage by shooting 46.1 percent from the floor. The Trail Blazers are knocking down 10.5 three pointers a night, which is tied for 6th in the league, while ranking 12th by shooting 36.4 percent from downtown.
Both teams play the second game of a back to back here. The difference is that Cleveland has been winning games while Portland has been awful for large stretches of the season. Winning one of three games that don’t involve a division opponent isn’t going to strike fear in the hearts of the opposition. Cleveland has more road victories this season than the Trail Blazers have at home. It’s tough to like a team with those kinds of struggles. If the Trail Blazers had a day or two off before this one, they’d have an edge but the way it stands, you have to go with Cleveland here.
These teams like to put up points, as evidenced by their percentage of games that go over the total. Both teams are beyond the 50 percent mark for games going over with Portland breaking the 60 percent barrier. The Cavaliers still have a thin rotation though, even with the addition of Kyle Korver, and it remains to be seen how well he will mesh with the rest of the group long term. Portland is glad to have Lillard back after he missed an extended period with an injury.
While both teams love to score, playing the second game of a back to back may hinder the offensive outputs. This is especially true for the Cavaliers with their short bench and questionable secondary scoring. The under is 5-2 in Cleveland’s last seven against the Western Conference. Portland has had the under come in for six of their last eight at home and in the second game of five of their last seven back to backs. In the series between the teams, the under have come up in each of the last six meetings in Portland.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.