Matchups & Predictions:
Suns (4-11) @ Magic (6-8)
Grizzlies (9-5) @ Sixers (4-10)
Spurs (11-3) @ Hornets (8-5)
Blazers (8-8) @ Cavs (10-2) by 10-14
Hawks (9-5) @ Pacers (7-8)
Celtics (8-6) @ Nets (4-9)
Heat (4-9) @ Pistons (6-9)
Raptors (8-6) @ Rockets (9-5)
Clippers (13-2) @ Mavericks (2-11)
Nuggets (6-8) @ Jazz (7-8)
Wolves (4-9) @ Pelicans (5-10)
Lakers (8-7) @ Warriors (12-2)
Thunder (8-7) @ Kings(5-9)
- 1: KAT vs the Brow. Arguably 2 of the best big men in the game at 20 and 23 respectively. Davis doesn’t have the support that KAT does, but the Pels have won 5 of their last 7, beating Celtics, Blazers, Hornets and Atlanta.
- 2: Celtics vs Nets. It’s always interesting to keep an eye on how these games go. Boston have double motivation to win to improve their lottery odds, and Brooklyn can deal a blow to both Boston’s record and ping pong ball combinations.
- 3: Raptors vs. Rockets, DeRozan vs Harden. Different style guards, but both have had an amazing starts to the season and are and will continue to be the spearhead of their team’s offence.
- 4: Lakers vs Warriors. It’s fast becoming appointment viewing, even if it is well short of a true rivalry. The Dubs are looking to continue their strong play and make up for the shellacking they received in Tinsel Town.
#JerseyBet Competition: If we don’t get all 13 predictions right and you do, you win a jersey of your choice. Must include a 5 point margin in the Spotlight Game for tie breaker purposes.
Spotlight Game: Portland Trailblazers @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Portland Trailblazer (8-8) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (10-2)
Quicken Loans Arena – November 23rd @ 7:00pm ET (AUS – 11:00am Thu 24th)
With a 10-2 record (7-1 at home) the Cavs have started the season hot. When Lebron is playing that is. Their second loss of the season was at the hands of the struggling Pacers and since 2014 they are 4 – 16 when the King doesn’t play. The key for the Cavs this game is in both containing and exploiting the Blazers back court. Kyrie’s defensive liabilities need to be hid behind Shumpert, Lebron and J.R, so expect a lot of switch ups on defence. Simmarily look for the Lebron led offence to abuse the Blazers D, especially with no Aminu. Love should trouble Portland’s forwards as neither Plumlee, Davis, Vonleh or Leonard have both the strength and speed to stop his rebounding or 3-ball.
The Blazers enter in the midst of a funk, having lost 4 of their past 5 and playing the back end of a back-to-back. Whilst it’s unlikely, this could be a trap game for the Cavs. For Portland to win, they will need their explosive back court to eclipse their season average of 50ppg. Harkless has the thankless job of trying to contain James (watch for early fouls), while either Plumee or Davis will have to chase Love on the perimeter. Look for a lot of small ball, as the Blazers might jus punt the idea of getting stops and try and outgun the Cavs. The key barometer here will be the 3 ball. The Blazers have averaged 12.3 3fg per win, and have won only 1 game when making less than 10.
Key Bench Guys:
Frye is 33 years old. Yet 13 games in he is averaging a career high 6 attempts from deep per game, connecting on 46.7%! While the benefits of a stretch four are well known, Frye’s real contribution is the amazing high pick n’ pop with Lebron. If Frye’s opponent sticks with Frye it green lights Lebron ‘s run to the rim. If Frye’s opponent’s goes with Lebron, Frye’s height and quick release, tied with Lebron’s passing means solid looks from deep.
Evan Turner has shown some life in his last 2 games, but it’s still been pretty miserable in the early going. Turner is averaging 39% from the field and only 2.6 assists vs 1.3 turnovers per game. Given Kyrie’s likelihood to switch off of both CJ and Dame, Portland might rely more on Turner’s mid post game than normal, for better or worse. Turner will also have to step up in a big way on D to provide relief to Mo Harkless as he is the only other option on the roster to guard LeBron with Aminu sidelined. This could be a flashpoint for Turner’s season.