1. Arron Afflalo has only shot 35.7 percent from the field against the Cavaliers this season. Have the Cavaliers done anything specific to slow him down?
Chris Manning, Right Down Euclid EIC: What helps the Cavaliers is that they have two guards – Dion Waiters (who may be out with injury) and C.J. Miles – who have some size and aren’t vulnerable to Afflalo’s post-ups. The Magic also don’t run pick and rolls with Afflalo as the roller to get him open for threes, which this season has been an Achilles heel in the Cleveland defense. These two factors combined limit the number of quality looks Afflalo has been able to get against the Cavaliers so far this season.
Zach Oliver aka Bow Tie Killa, BallerMindFrame.com: I can’t recall them doing anything any other team hasn’t. Team’s have been able to gameplan for him more as the season has gone on, and one of the biggest thing’s opposing coaches have said is they have to be physical with him down on the block. He likes to post up, especially on smaller guys, so having a bigger guy, like C.J. Miles, on him could be one of the things that’s leading to success guarding him. It’s just a matter of being physical with him really.
Trevor Magnotti, Right Down Euclid Staff Writer: A lot of Afflalo’s offensive successes have come from getting good looks from three and posting up smaller guards. The Cavs have the ability to keep him from succeeding in both of these ways offensively. In the post, the Cavs have kept C.J. Miles and Dion Waiters on Afflalo for the majority of the game, and when Jarrett Jack or Matthew Dellavedova are guarding him, Cleveland’s prevented post-ups by helping aggressively onto Afflalo. Afflalo’s also been held down very well from three by Miles. It helps that the Magic don’t run pick-and-rolls as often as teams like the Lakers and Pelicans, meaning the Cavs’ defense doesn’t run into its usual problem of getting trapped in defensive rotations and giving up wide open outside spot-up looks as often, which allows Miles, the team’s best perimeter-defending guard, to actually have a chance to contest Afflalo’s shots.The result is a 3-12 outside shooting performance for Afflalo against the Cavs this season.
2. The Magic shoot a lot of mid-range jumpers and their best wing players are most comfortable in that area. How can the Cavaliers exploit this facet of the Magic offense?
CM: The Cavaliers, if they are going to force the Magic to shoot a high amount of jump shots, will need to defend any Orlando pick and rolls effectively and getting the ball out of their guards hands and forcing them into Glen Davis’. If the Cavaliers can force Orlando into taking shots at the rim or in the mid-range. The x-factor here is that the Cavaliers have made a tactical change in their defense by dropping their bigs back into the paint instead of having them hedge. As my colleagues note below, the Magic are running more drive and kicks of late and these could be more open than normal with Cleveland’s change in defensive tactics.
BTK: Pack the paint. The Magic love to drive and kick, especially of late with Jameer Nelson and Victor Oladipo, so if you can manage to contain that then you should be able to slow down the Magic offensively. I would also say you could just let them shoot and be fine… You know what? Yeah, do that, especially if it’s Glen Davis.
TM: The Magic shot 38 percent from the field in the Cavs’ OT win back on January 2nd. A lot of that stemmed from the Magic just simply not taking advantage of the Cavs’ defensive woes. Mainly the boggling thing is that the Magic attempted 13 pick-and-rolls out of 107 possessions, per Synergy. Like Zach said, the Magic’s offense has relied mainly on drive-and-kick lately, but in that game, but they suck at finishing at the rim, so staying conservative is the Cavs’ best bet. This is one of the few teams where their strategy of completely disregarding the roll man actually might be beneficial, because daring Vucci Mane or Glen Davis to finish at the rim seems like a good plan compared to giving up an open Afflalo three. Otherwise, the Magic are going to be doing their usual thing of settling for jumpers and letting Glen Davis and Moe Harkless shoot, and that’s going to be fun.
3. It’s the final game before the trade deadline for both teams. Do either teams make a move? If so, who is most likely to be dealt?
CM: The Cavaliers are more likely to be active at the deadline for two reasons. For one, they are looking to win now and have come up in several trade rumors over the last few days. Secondly, they have a cheap wing in C.J. Miles on an expiring contract that might be attractive to a contender in need of a three-and-d player. The Magic, on the other hand, don’t have a ton of tradeable assets and, considering where they are at in their developmental curve, really should only make a deal if they can nab a legit franchise guy stuck in a bad situation (think James Harden when he played for the Oklahoma City Thunder). And that just isn’t available right now, unless you consider Rajon Rondo a franchise guy.
BTK: For the Magic, it’s mostly quiet, as of now. Rumblings say they’re taking offers on Nelson and Davis, which isn’t a surprise. I would guess they don’t make a deal, unless a team were to blow them away with an offer. I think there are teams that could use both, Nelson more so as his contract has only two million guaranteed next season. Davis will most likely be more of an asset come the offseason with his contract set to be an expiring deal next year. I’ll say I won’t be surprise if they do a deal, but I also won’t be surprised if they don’t.
TM: Besides Cavs and Magic bloggers’ pet deal for awful contracts, I think the Cavs are the team who is more likely to make a deal. the Cavs, like apparently every team in the league, are discussing a trade with the Kings and Nets for a backup point guard, so we could see Jarrett Jack get moved before Thursday (Ideally in a trade for centered around Jimmer, who’s like Jack-lite but a better spot-up shooter, and on an expiring contract). For the Magic, their only contract that could be used as a cap fodder would be Jameer Nelson’s $8.6 million with a team option, but I don’t see them making a deal because of his history with the club. That leaves really only a potential Afflalo deal, and they might want to re-sign him.