Cleveland Cavaliers (32-8) vs
Golden State Warriors (13-30)
Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
Friday, January 23, 2009
10:30 PM EST
Thank you, Boston. After beating the Orlando Magic last night, the Cavaliers are now back in first place in the East in the loss column. Of course, Cleveland has played 40 games while Boston has played…..45!! That is quite a difference. Orlando has played 42 games. In fact, there is only one team in the NBA who has played fewer games than the Cavaliers, and that’s New Orleans, who has played 39 (although Phoenix and Minnesota have each also played 40). You’d think they’d be gearing up for a loaded February, but you’d be wrong, as they only play 12 games that month. March is where it catches up to them as they play 17 games that month, followed by 8 games in 15 days to finish the season in April. So it’s important the Cavaliers take care of business in games like these….games coming off a day of rest against weaker opponents.
Projected Starting Lineups
-G Mo Williams (16.4 ppg, 3.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 16.63 PER)
-G Sasha Pavlovic (4.0 ppg, 1.0 apg, .404 3P%, 9.76 PER)
-F LeBron James (27.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 6.8 apg, 31.60 PER)
-F Ben Wallace (3.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 13.74 PER)
-C Anderson Varejao (9.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 15.50 PER)
Key Reserves: Daniel Gibson, Wally Szczerbiak, JJ Hickson, Darnell Jackson
Injuries: Zydrunas Ilgauskas (out), Delonte West (out), Eric Snow (out)
Golden State Warriors:
-G Jamal Crawford (20.2 ppg, 4.8 apg, .358 3P%, 15.79 PER)
-G Stephen Jackson (19.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 6.0 apg, 14.93 PER)
-F Kelenna Azubike (14.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.5 apg, 14.47 PER)
-F Anthony Randolph (5.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.6 apg, 14.09 PER)
-C Rob Kurz (4.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 0.5 apg, 13.55 PER)
Key Reserves: Corey Maggette, CJ Watson, Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins, Marco Belinelli
Injuries: Marco Belinelli (questionable), Andris Biedrins (questionable), Monta Ellis (probable), Brendan Wright (out)
Team Efficiency Stats
-Off (100.7 ppg, 41.5 rpg, .478 FG%, .756 FT%, 20.2 apg, Eff-109.9, Rank-2)
-Def (89.6 ppg, 38.3 rpg, .422 FG%, Eff-97.1, Rank-2)
Golden State Warriors:
-Off (107.0 ppg, 42.6 rpg, .451 FG%, .761 FT%, 20.5 apg, Eff-105.5, Rank-12)
-Def (112.0 ppg, 47.6 rpg, .468 FG%, Eff-110.4, Rank-29)
- Golden State 97 at Cleveland 112 (11/28/08) [box]
A team like Golden State shows you why efficiency stats are such a useful tool. On one hand, you might look at Golden State’s numbers and see that they average 107 ppg and 42.6 rebounds and you might think they are a great offensive team. But that’s not really telling the whole story.
The Warriors are first in the NBA in Pace, averaging close to 100 possessions per game. Comparatively, the Cavaliers average only around 90 possessions per game. What this means, is that when you now consider that the Cavaliers rebound and assists numbers are almost identical to Golden States, combined with the Cavaliers’ superior FG%, and you start to realize that perhaps the Cavaliers are actually the better offensive team. And that’s what their offensive efficiency numbers say as well. They are 2nd in the NBA in efficiency at 109.9, while Golden State is in the middle of the pack at 105.5. If you prefer using Offensive Rating, the Cavaliers are 3rd in the NBA, scoring 112.6 points per 100 possessions, while Golden State is 11th with 108.6 points.
What this means is that when these offenses play against each other, and their possessions even out, the Cavaliers should be able to score more against the same defense that Golden State is playing. But the Cavaliers and Warriors don’t play the same defense. Unfortunately for Golden State, they have to play the 2nd best defense in the NBA while the Cavaliers get to play the 2nd worst defense in the NBA. Plus, the Warriors are just 9-10 at home this season, and they are 8-14 against the Eastern Conference overall this year. It all adds up to a pretty big advantage for the Cavaliers in this game.
The Warriors will, however, be welcoming back Monta Ellis, as he makes his season debut. You think back to the offseason, before the Mo Williams trade, and Ellis, a restricted free agent, was a guy that many Cavaliers observers were salivating over and wanted a chance to sign. So it’s funny to think that here we are exactly half way into the season and Ellis is just getting started while the Cavaliers are putting together a franchise record breaking season. I suppose thinks worked out well after all for Cleveland.
In this game, the Cavaliers should be able to take advantage of the Warriors, especially if Biedrins is still out, by using some smaller lineups to counteract the quicker, more athletic Warriors. Last game CJ Watson really picked apart the Cavs, and Delonte West isn’t here to slow him down. It seems like I say this every preview, but Mo Williams really needs to step up his defense and stop guys like Watson from initiating penetration. Joe Crawford and Stephen Jackson are both electric scoring threats from the outside, and when Maggette is in, he’s another guy who loves to attack on offense. If the Cavaliers can do a good job of sealing off the perimeter and making the Warriors back court make tough shots, the Cavs should be in good shape. The Cavaliers front court matches up well with the Warriors if Biedrins is gone.
This is a game some might call a trap game, and I suppose there’s some truth to that, but I just call this a focus test. In games against poor defenses, the Cavaliers sometimes will relax and settle for shots rather than attack and take advantage of their opponents’ glaring weakness. This is a game that the Cavaliers could have 24+ assists if they really wanted to, and I hope they do. Otherwise, if they just get into a shootout of outside jumpers, the Warriors can strike if they get hot and the Cavaliers will be faced with heading into Utah tomorrow evening on a losing streak. This is a game the Cavaliers need to take care of business in and secure at worst a 2-2 split on this road trip.
Golden State +6.5
From The Outside Looking In
Next Game For The Cavaliers
Saturday, January 24, 2009
9:00 PM EST
Cleveland Cavaliers at Utah Jazz