The Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Portland Trail Blazers tonight, looking for an eighth straight win as part of a run sparked by the Cavs' recent additions. In addition, this game is a gauge of just where the Cavs are at this time. If you remember, the Cavs' loss in Portland earlier this season was one of the more frustrating games of Cleveland's early season struggles.
Plus, we get to see Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge go head-to-head, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard duel and all the interesting parts of those match-ups.
Prediction: LeBron James goes off tonight. Here's why. Portland, in theory, has a player in Nic Batum that is a prototypical defender for LeBron. He's big, physical and quick enough to stay in front of faster players. The problem? He hasn't been himself this year.
Defensively, teams are 5.5 points better per 100 possession on offense when Batum is on the floor. That's not necessarily a reason to take him off the floor, but it's a cause for concern. Last year, the Portland defense was slightly better with Batum on the floor and paired with Wesley Matthews, Portland had a strong duo to defend opposing wings with. And when you look at Batum's shooting numbers - he's on pace to have the lowest field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and true shooting percentage of his career with a only slightly lowered usage rate - it's hard to see Batum's use. This very well could mean LeBron has a huge all-around night as he scores and, when the Portland defense adjusts, he can adjust and find Irving, Love and J.R. Smith on open 3-point looks.
Flashback to a previous close game between the Cavs and Blazers. Remember when Dame did this? If this game is as close as I expect it to be, perhaps Lillard (or LeBron or Kyrie) make a similar buzzer beater
Fear The Sword's Fearless Prediction
This game should be close. These are two of the league's best teams right now - Portland is third in the Western Conference, the Cavs have won seven straight - and the styles matchup is interesting. I'll take the Cavs to beat the Trail Blazers 103-100 in a game decided in the last three minutes.