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Game On: New Orleans Pelicans Vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Published: November 22, 2013

Here we go again.

At the beginning of the season, our writers signed up for specific games. In the interest of my schedule, I chose to cover many of the weekend games. It hasn’t been a great start.

I am 0-3 in my coverage so far this season. Remember the Magic blowout? Me. The Lakers blowout? Me. I also covered one of the Suns losses. The common theme in these games was that I mentioned how bad the teams were before each game.

Today I am preaching the same message. This Cavaliers team is 4-8 overall and 1-6 on the road. Yet this year’s Pelicans squad has been anything but consistent, so predicting a win with any degree of assurance would be a lie.

That said, the Pelicans appear to be a superior team and have home-court advantage. Ryno’s back and reminding us how much his presence changes the offense. Anthony Davis is currently on pace to have a historically good season. Tyreke appears to be getting his sea legs under him after missing almost the entire preseason. Jrue Holiday has been playing better. Lou Amundson has stepped into the role of 4th big and has tangibly outperformed Greg Stiemsma. Eric Gordon’s results have been mixed, but he has been noticeably more aggressive this season in attacking the basket and has shot 40% from 3. Morrow has an understated rule but has been ripping nets when he’s in.

Recent times have been good, but not that good. This is supposed to be the easy part of the schedule. The Pelicans are supposed to win these kinds of games.. and tonight is no exception.

So where do the Cavs shoot and how well do they shoot there?



The Cavs looooove the midrange shot. Dion Waiters, Kyrie Irving, and Jarrett Jack are liable to pull up for a midrange J at any time.. and they’re pretty good at it. The bad news is that offenses with a heavy volume of low-efficiency shots tend not to be good. Such is the case with the Cavaliers, who rank 29th in offensive efficiency. No team gets fewer shots in the restricted area than the Cavs and no team finishes at a lower rate.

This is a great chance for Jrue to show his merit as a defender. Kyrie is one of the league’s craftiest ball-handlers and, despite the Cavs inadequacy in the restricted area, is very good at getting to the rim. His finishing has been a little off to start the season, but he’s not someone you want attacking your basket. Conversely, Dion Waiters is shooting a putrid 36% in the restricted area. Dion Waiters has the JR Smith disease, meaning he will take bad jumper after bad jumper if you bait him into it.. and you should. Concentrate on keeping the Cavs guards out of the paint and let them settle for jumpers.

The Cavaliers only have one shot-blocker and he is a shade of his former self. Andrew Bynum is still working himself into shape, has admitted that he doesn’t ever think his explosion will come back, and plays an average of 15.5 minutes a night. Want to take him out of the paint? Push the ball in transition when he’s in and play 5 on 4. At the least, you’ll wear him out.

Speaking of bigs, don’t bite on Tristan Thompson pump fakes. Let him have the jumper. Thompson is a quick, wiry forward. The Pelicans should also focus on keeping him off the offensive glass.. he averages almost 4 offensive rebounds per game.

Finally, take care of the ball. Remarkably, Cleveland is top 10 in steals and defensive efficiency after finishing with the 4th worst defense last year.

I have no idea how this game will turn out.



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