Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Portland Trail Blazers Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Cleveland Cavaliers (28-10 SU, 19-19 ATS) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (23-15 SU, 20-17-1 ATS), 9:00 p.m. EST, Sunday, January 10, 2009, Rose Garden, Portland, Ore. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of

Point Spread: Cavaliers -5.5/Blazers +5.5
Over/Under: 190

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Two of the most exciting young stars in the NBA face off on ESPN on Sunday night, as Brandon Roy and the Portland Trail Blazers host LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers are in first place in the Central Division with a very comfortable 10.5-game lead. They also have the best record in the Eastern Conference. But the Cavs have lost two of their last three games, including a 99-97 loss at the Denver Nuggets without Carmelo Anthony on the floor on Friday, and are looking to get back on track with their first win over a team with a record above .500 in the New Year.

The Blazers are tied for first place in the Northwest Division with the Nuggets. The Blazers have also lost two of their last three games but their most recent game was a 107-98 win at home over the Lakers on Friday.

In the Blazers’ win over the Lakers, Roy scored 32 points on 9-for-11 shooting and also had five rebounds, six assists and no turnovers. Jerryd Bayless came off the bench to score 21 points on 5-for-9 shooting. Andre Miller had 17 points and seven assists, and Martell Webster had 14 points and eight rebounds. The Blazers shot 51 percent from the field and 32-for-39 from the free throw line (the Lakers were 5-for-10 from the free throw line), and they had only eight turnovers.

In the Cavs’ loss to the Nuggets, LeBron James scored 35 points on 12-for-28 shooting and also had seven assists, six rebounds and eight turnovers. Mo Williams and Zydrunas Ilgauskas each had 11 points and Shaquille O’Neal added 10. Anderson Varejao had nine points and 15 rebounds off the bench. The Cavs shot 47 percent from the field, made nine 3-pointers, and won the rebounding battle by 12, but they committed 19 turnovers.

For the Cavs, LeBron is averaging 28.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game this season. Williams is second on the team in scoring with 17.1 points per game and is shooting 45 percent from 3-point range. Shaq is the only other player averaging in double figures with 10.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. The Cavs have a lot of size down low with Shaq, Varejao, Ilgauskas and J.J. Hickson. With LeBron and/or Jamario Moon on the court as well, it makes the Cavs even bigger. They have plenty of role players that can knock down outside jumpers, including Anthony Parker, Delonte West and Daniel Gibson.

Roy leads the Blazers with 23.2 points per game. LaMarcus Aldridge is averaging 15.7 points per game, and Miller is third with 12 per game. Webster and Bayless are also plenty capable of exploding for big scoring nights. Webster has scored at least 14 points in each of the last five games. Bayless has had three games this season with at least 21 points.

The Cavs have held their opponents to under 100 points in each of their last four games overall and their last four road games. The Blazers have scored over 100 points in four of the last five games overall and each of their last three home games.

The Cavs are 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall and in their last five games as a favorite. The Blazers are 4-1 ATS in their last five games as an underdog and 29-10 ATS in their last 39 games as a home underdog. Each of the Cavs’ last four road games have gone under, and six of their last eight games overall have gone under. Seven of the Blazers’ last eight games have gone over, including six of their last seven home games. The over is 8-2 in the Portland’s last 10 games as an underdog. The road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five games between these teams, while the underdog is 5-1 ATS in the last six between the Cavs and Blazers.

Ryno’s Pick: These two teams have an interesting contrast in styles. The Cavs like to keep the game low-scoring and win the game on defense, while the Blazers are best in high-scoring games when they are shooting well and able to get up and down the court. The Cavs have a very big team and will try to pound the ball inside, while the Blazers don’t have a lot of size since Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla were both lost for the season with injuries. Aldridge and Juwan Howard are more or less all the Blazers have down low. They will have a difficult task in stopping Shaq, Ilgauskas, Varejao and Hickson. The Blazers will have to get rebounding help from their guards and they have to make this a fast-paced game in order to win it. The Blazers were able to out-rebound the Lakers and score over 100 points on them, so there’s no reason they can’t do that again against the Cavs. Giving the Blazers points at home is dangerous. Take the Blazers +5.5.