In this busy evening, since 24 teams are on the boards, we take a particularly close look at the meeting between the Cavaliers and the Blazers, in Cleveland.
A duel between two opposing dynamics, since the locals have won three games in a row (which followed a series of five defeats), while their evening opponents, after a fiery start to the season, have come back a bit in line, with three consecutive defeats before this match.
And unfortunately for the troop of Chauncey Billups, this bad series lengthens to four defeats in a row, since the Cavaliers have imposed themselves (114-96), after a generally one-sided match.
Winners of the four quarters, the teammates of a Donovan Mitchell once again “MVPesque” (34 points at 11/19, 6/10 at 3-pts), well supported by Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen, indeed took place and offered a serious offensive performance (55% on shots, including 44% from behind the arc), opening up to a 20-point lead in the third quarter.
As for the Blazers, precisely, we certainly remember the defeat in the first place, but we must also salute a coherent face in attack despite the absence of Damian Lillard, and a fighting spirit already seen and applauded this season. Even though, ultimatelycertain defensive limitations, particularly on “pick-and-roll”, have made impossible any hope of victory, on the floor of these Cavaliers who hold the best “Net Rating” of the whole league.
WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER
– The league’s most efficient pick-and-roll strikes again. We are of course talking about Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen, who have scored 1.34 points per possession on pick-and-roll since the start of the season, the best average in the entire league. Against Portland, the two players continued this momentum, with 34 points for the back, accompanied by 2 rebounds and 2 blocks, and a voluminous double-double for the pivot, with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
– For the Blazers, a defeat but positive to remember. At the end, there is certainly a defeat of 18 points, the fourth in a row, but not everything is to be thrown away, on the contrary. Without Damian Lillard, still hampered by his right calf, the Blazers made a good showing for a half, and a small part of the third quarter, before losing ground definitively on their opponents, who were simply too good in attack. In the radius of satisfactions despite the defeat, we could observe a united game in attack, with 28 assists out of 35 baskets (and despite 16 loss of ball), and an identity always affirmed, based on resilience and effort. The Blazers have been going through turbulence for several days, but the product on the field is appreciable. Chauncey Billups and his family must grit their teeth, waiting for the storm to pass.
TOPS & FLOPS
✅ Darius Garland. The Cavaliers point guard was in playmaking mode with 12 of his team’s 22 assists. He adds 24 points, and only 2 bullet losses. Enough to allow him to win the best +/- of the match, with a nice +26. Deserved as the former Vanderbilt offered a “masterclass” of offensive tempo management.
✅ Drew Eubanks. In a private attack from his leader, the pivot replacing the Blazers did what he could, and quietly compiled 10 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks. This last point is particularly noteworthy, since his entries have often coincided with his team’s best defensive phases on the opponent’s pick-and-roll. A “pick-and-roll” that Jusuf Nurkic could not contain, both in “drop” and “blitz”.
✅⛔️ Anfernee Simons. The young leader of the Blazers did not have a bad game, on the contrary since he finished with 20 points and 6 assists. But the final impression is mixed since he scored 17 of 20 points after the break, after a first period at 3 points at 1/7 on shots, and in particular 10 of 20 units in the last quarter. A certain awakening, but too late, while the delay of his team stagnated around 15 points.
⛔️ The Cavs bench. If we have to look for the little beast in this otherwise very successful evening for Cleveland, we could point the finger at the starving contribution of the substitutes of the Cavaliers, who only compile 10 points. This is indeed what can happen when three holders score 24 points or more… To see if this does not harm them in another context, for example another match at the end of which is disputed later.
Cleveland (12-6) : short trip to Milwaukee, on the night of Friday to Saturday (02:00)
Portland (10-8) : continuation of this four-game “road-trip” in the Eastern Conference, with a trip to Madison Square Garden for the Knicks on the night of Friday to Saturday (01:30 a.m.)