Time to Impale the Cavaliers

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Published: November 1, 2008

Matchup: Cleveland Cavaliers @ New Orleans Hornets

Vile Non-Hornet Bloggers: Cavalier Attitude, Waiting for Next Year

Tonight matches up the best player in the NBA against some cat named LeBron James.  That’s right, you heard me.

The Cavaliers lost by five to Boston in Boston and then walloped the Charlotte Bobcats in their home opener to start the season.  The Cavaliers have high expectations every year due to Mr. James, and this year is no different.  They added Mo Williams, a guard who can handle the ball and hit jumpshots at an average rate – yet he’s supposed to put them over the top.  I’m skeptical, and expect them to go through the regular season like they did last year, winning somewhere around 48-49 games and then having LeBron turn it on the playoffs and propel them to the Conference Finals.

The Hornets handled the Suns after struggling with the defensive energy of the Golden State Warriors.  That is a concern for this game, because the Cavaliers make their living by being a tough defensive team.  Still, their flavor of defense is a little different as they prefer to dominate the interior with big bodies, and rebound the hell out of the ball – Ben Wallace, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao, not to mention LeBron, are all very active rebounders, and they led the league in Rebound Rate last year.  If Tyson can’t go, we’ll need our shooters on target to limit the rebounds available.  Of course, this team does have a plethora of shooters, so our odds are fairly good.

Our biggest problem is that Injuries are already mounting.  Ugh.

Injuries

Cleveland: None
Hornets: Peja Stojakovic Out(Sprained Ankle), Tyson Chandler Out(Sprained ankle), Julian Wright Day-to-Day(Sprained Ankle), Sean Marks Out(Lack of Talent)

Player Matchups

Point Guard: Chris Paul v Mo Williams
Advantage: Hornets
I don’t really get the idea that Mo Williams is the missing peice.  He’s alright, but his shooting is only slightly above average, and he’s ordinary as a point guard.  He was also part of the worst defensive squad in the NBA last year, and we all know that defense starts on the perimeter.  Paul’s better than him, obviously.  One thing to watch is how Paul has uncharacteristically turned the ball over 4 times a game, and was admittedly tired in the fourth quarter against Phoenix.  Let’s see how that works out.

Shooting Guard: Morris Peterson v Delonte West
Advantage: Hornets
I really like the way Morris has played the last two games.  I think he knows he’s going to be pushed for minutes, and as a result he’s playing aggressively.  He’s still a touch slow, but Delonte West doesn’t have afterburners, so he should be fine.  Delonte has started out a little rough, and has had some issues during the off-season with depression.  I’m pulling for the kid, and liked his game enough I had hoped the Hornets traded for him last year, but I’d be happy if his poor play continued – at least for tonight.

Small Forward: Rasual Butler v LeBron James.
Advantage: $#!T
Rasual Butler has played well, and is replacing the injured Peja in the starting lineup, and his defense is pretty good, and . . . and . . .  I – I just don’t know what to say here.  I’m terrified.  Can I rethink calling Paul better than LeBron?  Do you think that will make him less motivated?

Power Forward: David West v Ben Wallace
Advantage: Hornets
West has never had much trouble with Big Ben.  He had a bad shooting game last game, so he’s due for a good one.  Fluffy’s jumpers, in particular, should be in full effect.  Ben Wallace can rebound, and still plays tough post defense, but he’s no longer the force he used to be, and no where near as effective playing against big men with range.

Center: Hilton Armstrong v Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Advantage: Cavaliers
This will be ugly.  Zydrunas is a very strong rebounder and Hilton is a very poor rebounder.  Zydrunas likes to take fifteen foot jumpshots, Hilton isn’t that good at defending that sort of big man.  It might be another tough night in the middle for us.

Bench:
Advantage: Cavaliers
The Cavaliers have two fairly capable reserves – a sixth man candidate in Boobie Gibson, and a nice banger in Andersen “Sideshow Bob” Varejao.  The rest of their reserves – swingmen Szczerbiak and Pavlovic – are questionable but can sometimes have an impact with their shooting.  The Hornets roll out The Phantom Posey and some mediocre parts because of our injuries.  I’m hoping Julian Wright gets some daylight as a result and forces Byron to give him more minutes.

Have fun at the game, those of you lucky enough to be in New Orleans.

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