The New Orleans Pelicans (43-32) will challenge the reigning Eastern Conference champion, Cleveland Cavaliers (45-30), at the Quicken Loans Arena tonight. The Cavaliers are 4 point favorites on their home court.
LeBron James and company were right on script for the yearly Cavs and were in notable disarray throughout the beginning of the season. We have now entered phase two of the annual hard-court saga, the Cavs again unveiling themselves as the best team in the eastern conference and Lebron James playing his dominant brand of playoff caliber basketball.
Cavaliers Looking to Get Hot
JR Smith helped shore up Cleveland’s No. 3 seed in the East in long range shooting, as he poured in 19 points on an eight for nine performance in the 118-105 rout of the Hornets. Overall, the Cavs were 11 for 28 from beyond the arc.
While the Cavs do not sit atop the Eastern Conference finals, and we can begin the yearly ritual of entertaining the idea that there are teams in the east capable of knocking King James off his thrown, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Cavs are who we thought they were, again.
Pelicans Still Fighting for Postseason
The New Orleans Pelicans crushed the Cavaliers earlier in the season, 123-101, but that was against a Cavs team that was generating apocalyptic headlines at the time and a Pelicans team that boasted a twin tower lineup with DeMarcus Cousins and Antonio Davis.
While Davis is a force to be reckoned with, a Cousins-less Pelicans feels more like a team fighting for relevancy in a loaded Western Conference than a dominant contender. That is not to say that the Pelicans can’t make a run their talented front court, with Rondo at the point and Jrue Holiday averaging 19 points per game.
Emeika Okafor is playing as well as can be expected in place of Cousins and Holiday is staying hot, coming off a triple double in Pelicans loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday. However, the outlook for this particular game is dimming with Davis nursing an ankle and the possibility Rondo may sit with a sprained wrist.
Cleveland Tops New Orleans
The Cavs have an outstanding home record of 25-11 and have won four in a row in Cleveland. With 5 of their last seven games on their home-court, they will be looking to finish strong and continue setting for the upcoming postseason.
I’m sure LeBron and company haven’t forgotten the drubbing the Pelicans gave them in their last match-up and the aging star couldn’t have felt great about the constant use of the word slow to describe him and his teammate’s performance.
You couple that with a less than 100% Davis, no Cousins, (maybe) no Rondo, and a hot Cleveland Cavaliers that may have its full roster on the court for the first time this season-you have the ingredients for a statement game for the Cavs. As for Anthony Davis shaving his Unibrow? We will just have to wait until Sunday to see if we are being fooled. We are taking the Cavaliers 109-96. Take Cleveland -4.
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