Trail Blazers vs. Cavaliers: In-Arena Report

On Sunday night I faced some of the worst turbulence I’ve ever flown into when my flight into Akron, Ohio started to descend. The midwest was dealing with a winter storm, and while the Cleveland area wasn’t hit with snow, there were some reported winds that exceeded 60 mph earlier that day --the highest wind speeds recorded in the area since Hurricane Sandy in 2012-- that left power out and caused planes larger than the one I was flying on to divert to other cities in the region. We knew it was going to be a bumpy ride, but we didn’t assume it would be so bad that we would have to abort the initial landing and loop around the airport again all while being jostled up and down and side to side.

And just like my descent into 30 mph winds the night prior, the second half of the Trail Blazers 123 to 110 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers was anything but smooth, leaving Blazers fans breathless until well after the final buzzer.

Game summary

Final Score: Portland defeats Cleveland 123- 110

Best moment from inside "The Q": The energy felt from the Cavs fans during the third quarter which made for a great atmosphere to watch a basketball game in and reminded me of what the arena must have sounded like during their previous four-year run.


The game started and the Blazers just couldn’t miss. The ball movement was crisp and the defense was solid as the Blazers hit shot after shot en route to a 14-0 lead. In fact, the Blazers finished the first half shooting 10/12 from behind the arc. Stotts cycled through his bench early and often and the Blazers just kept on clicking. At halftime, the Blazers went up 23 after Moe Harkless hit a three at the buzzer and it seemed as if the Blazers were on their way to a nice, comfortable victory.

But nothing is ever comfortable or easy when it comes to the Portland Trail Blazers.

As the maxim goes: "Everything that can go wrong will go wrong," and that is exactly what it was like watching the Blazers in the third quarter. The team was uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball, took bad jump shots, and made Cedi Osman-- who diced the Blazers up with 27 points-- look like Kyrie Irving as he continuously paraded to the rim.

As this run was happening the Cavaliers fans suddenly found life, and with that life came momentum. The volume in the stadium level ratcheted up a few decibels as the pit in my stomach continued to grow. The Cavaliers shot a total of 14 free throws in the third quarter alone. The Blazers were able to hold the lead thanks to a few big calls from the referees in the fourth quarter.

What swung the game came with the score at 92-89 Blazers. With over six minutes remaining, Nance makes a three in the corner as Enes Kanter barrels into Matthew Dellavedova. Instead of giving the shooting foul and a potential four-point play to the Cavaliers, the refs decided that the foul was before the shot they before wiping the points from the board and negating the Cavs full comeback. After that moment, the Blazers were able to pull away and keep Cleveland at bay. They will next play tomorrow night in Boston as they look to go 4-0 on their current seven-game road trip.

The experience

Cleveland is a great sports city, and I am so glad that I got to experience that for myself on Monday night. The design of Quicken Loans Arena itself is kind of bland and is dwarfed by Progressive Field next door, but "The Q" is definitely more centralized in the center of the city than the Wells Fargo Center was in Philadelphia. The stadium is currently undergoing a large amount of construction to expand its footprint and make the building even better in the future.


Inside, it was bobblehead night at the arena. All fans received a Larry Nance Jr. bobblehead which was pretty unique and well-designed. And while the concourse and stadium weren’t extremely flashy, there were some aspects of the stadium that I enjoyed. The JumboTron was massive -- most resembling Houston’s court-long flatscreen-- and even shot fire out of the side for pregame introductions. In the concourse, there were even life-size Lego structures of players.



However, what might have been the biggest selling point of the game were the seat prices. It was a bitter Monday night in Cleveland and with the Cavaliers being one of the worst teams in the league the year after their marquee player left, the tickets were extremely inexpensive. We paid just as much for our ticket just five rows up from center court as we do for our mid-100 level corner seats at the Moda Center. It made for one of the best viewing experiences I’ve ever had at a game and we were so low that we could hear the players chirping at one another and Coach Stotts yelling at his bench.

There were more Blazer fans than I thought there would be. I did notice a strange occurrence as I scanned the concourse for those clad in black and red: There were a lot of children in Blazer gear whereas the parents were in Cavaliers gear. In front of me was a father and son who were from Eastern Pennsylvania. The father still doesn’t know how his son became such an avid Trail Blazers fan but took him to the game so he could see the team that he rarely gets to see live. And of course, there were also a lot of CJ’s friends and family in attendance who filled up an entire section as they waited for the Canton native after the game.


Something else to note. I must say that the Cavaliers PA announcer is extremely underrated. His gravelly voice pumped up the crowd and he rides the line between obnoxious and exciting really well. He was an enjoyable part of the experience Monday night.

Cleveland, Ohio is an interesting city with a lot of history, especially when it comes down to the cities sports teams. While it may be deemed as a "sleepy city" or "the mistake on the lake," I discovered first-hand that it is simply more than that. It’s a fun city to check out and catch a sporting event in.