In the first game after the All-Star Break, the Cleveland Cavaliers will host the New Orleans (soon to be Pelicans) Hornets. New Orleans, lead by rookie Anthony Davis, have solid nucleus. Alongside Davis are guard Eric Gordon (who may be traded) and rookie guard Austin Rivers (son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers). While the team is not the Hornets of the Chris Paul-era, they do have the some building blocks. When they take the floor in Cleveland, they will be facing a Cavaliers team that is coming off a one-point loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
Opponent’s Blog: Pelican Debrief
Venue: Quicken Loans Arena
Tipoff: 8 P.M
Betting Line: Cavaliers -3
Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio, ESPN
Where you can listen: WTAM (1100), WFUN (970 AM)
For Cleveland, Kyrie Irving will give them a huge advantage at point guard. Grevis Vasquez is solid player, but Irving should own him when they are matched up. Otherwise, there is no clear advantage for Cleveland. Gordon is better than Dion Waiters at this point, while Al-Faroq Aminu and Alonzo Gee will likely cancel each other out. Rebounding wise, Tristan Thompson should be able to control Ryan Anderson, but Anderson’s ability to shoot the three will mean Thompson (and Marresse Speights) will have to step outside of their comfort zone to contain them. At center, Tyler Zeller is going have his hands full with Davis, the former number one pick. Zeller should be able to run the floor with Davis, but rebounding wise, he’ll be at a disadvantage. Davis will also likely succeed against Zeller on the offensive end, as Zeller isn’t the strongest defender in the post.
An interesting solution to this problem would be to have Thompson match-up with Davis. Thompson would be giving up an inch to the uni-browed wunderkind, but stylistically, he matches up with Davis better down low than Zeller does.
For New Orleans, I think Anderson is the x-factor. Their leadings scorer at 16.9 points per game, he is a long big man who can step back behind the line. For the season, he is shooting 43.8 percent from behind the arc. His ability to space the floor will make things interesting for Cleveland because it will be come to Davis versus his defender for rebounds. Against Zeller, I give a clear edge to the Kentucky product. Against Thompson, that matchup is a little bit murkier. Due to his length, the edge still likely belongs to Davis, but Thompson is a very good rebounder that should be able to hold his own against Davis. It will be also be crucial for Gee to keep Aminu from getting offensive rebounds. The Wake Forest product gets 1.6 offensive boards a game – about half of Gee’s total average. Amnu will also tote a three inch height advantage over his Cavaliers counterpart.
If I was a betting man, I would take the Cavaliers in this game. When it comes down to it, I think Irving should dominate this game. No one on New Orleans will be able to contain him, and he’s coming off a huge weekend in Houston. Mix in a good night from Dion Waiters and a productive night for the bench (meaning, very little to no Luke Walton) Cleveland should win this game. Lead by Irving, they’ll be able to overcome some of the deficiencies and take home the ‘W’ on their home floor.