Game Time: 6:00 p.m. Pacific TV: KGW and ESPN
OK, let's make this short and sweet. We fiddled around a little with the L*kers preview, playing the "no reason to say we should win" card in order to stir up that familiar "win when we shouldn't have against L.A." juju. But look...I'm being honest this time. Seriously. Portland's almost certainly going to lose this game. And when I say "almost certainly" I'm being polite.
Portland has never been able to stop LeBron James no matter who they throw at him. I'm to the point where I'm thinking they should try an extended run with Aldridge against him or something, just to switch it up. I know Martell has been getting rave reviews for his defense lately. I know Martell has a body on him. I know Martell did a good job against Kobe the other night, making him work hard for his 32. But even though LeBron and Kobe are neck and neck in most people's minds as the best players in the league there's no question the Blazers would rather face Bryant. It's often good for the Blazers when Kobe takes a lot of attempts. It's bad news when LeBron does. He's too big, too quick, too skilled...he makes us look silly. It's also bad news when LeBron passes because Mo Williams can hit threes which we're not good at stopping because we threw three guys at King James, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shaq can hit shots outside and in that we don't have the height to stop, and Anderson Varejao just knocks us around to mop up whatever everyone else misses. It's bad news all the way around.
Plus the Cavs are great rebounders. Plus the Cavs are excellent three-point shooters. Plus the Cavs play defense, block shots, share the ball. Plus the Cavs have Le-freakin' Bron-freakin' James.
Teams who beat Cleveland tend to either have a superb defense or force them to play faster than they want to. That means the Blazers will need to push tempo again tonight just like they did against L.A. Forget the post moves. Make those lumbering centers run around and guard someone out on the court. The team has to go after every rebound as a team. And they just have to hope something magical happens again. Maybe the returning Steve Blake is carrying a spare rabbit's foot in his pocket. If so, stick it under LeBron's heel when he comes down off of a jumper.
If Portland does pull this off it would clearly be the win of the season, not just because of the matchup but because it would be the second straight improbable performance, this time coming down from an emotional high instead of riding one. We'll see. I'll be hoping.
Read the Cleveland assessment at FeartheSword.
Enter tonight's Jersey Contest form here.