This could be a fun Cavs game on two fronts.
On one hand, Larry Nance Jr. is playing his first game back in Cleveland since being traded to Portland over the summer. That figures to be a cool moment when he checks in for the first time and gets his flowers from the crowd.
On the other hand, the Cavs can get above .500 with a win and are playing at home for the first time since hosting the Hawks on Oct. 23. A win here would be another positive moment for a team that has been better than expected to start the year.
HOW TO WATCH
Where: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse — Cleveland, Ohio
When: 7 p.m. EST
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
Spread: Cavs +3
Opposing blog: Blazer’s Edge
Expected Cavs starting lineup: Darius Garland Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen
Cavs injury report: Isaac Okoro (OUT - hamstring), Lauri Markkanen (OUT - health & safety protocols), Kevin Love (OUT - health & safety protocols), Tacko Fall (OUT - two-way contract), R.J. Nembhard (OUT - two-way contract)
Expected Trail Blazers starting lineup: Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Norm Powell, Robert Covington, Jusuf Nurkic,
Trail Blazers injury report: None
Three Things to watch
The Cavs’ rotation is in flux. With Isaac Okoro and Kevin Love out, the Cavs have rotation questions to answer. In Cleveland’s 113-110 win over Charlotte on Monday, J.B. Bickerstaff played seven players most of the minutes with Dean Wade playing just 14 minutes as the eighth man off of the bench. Evan Mobley led the team with 40 minutes played to boot and every starter played 30-plus minutes. Will he keep the rotation tight again or perhaps Lamar Stevens another chance or give Dylan Windler his first real shot?
Damian Lillard’s breakout game could come at any time. Lillard is having a down year by his standards — 18.6 points per game. 34.9% shooting from the field and 23.1% shooting on three-pointers in seven games. He’s not going to be at that level for long — he’s too good for that. Perhaps his moment comes against the Cavs on Wednesday considering they have two guards who aren’t exactly lockdown defenders and have had guards (LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier most recently) go off on them.
Can the Cavs’ defense do enough? Interestingly, despite Lillard’s slow start, Portland has the league’s sixth-best offense with an offensive rating of 112.5 per Cleaning The Glass. It’s early, but that’s about five points above league average. The Cavs, meanwhile, are 13th in defense, giving up 106.9 points per 100 possessions per Cleaning The Glass. If that number can hold, the Cavs can absolutely win this game. Especially watch how the team decides to defend Norm Powell — he’s not Portland’s offensive engine or leading scorer, but he can do damage in space and off the bounce against Lauri Markkanen given the opportunity. Expect a lot of switching from Mobley and Jarrett Allen vs. Powell and probably Lillard and C.J. McCollum too.