Preview: Kings at Cavaliers

SCOUTING REPORT

HighTops has the report ...

The Cavs have the best record in the NBA 57-16, they arere three games ahead of the Lakers and six games ahead of Orlando. They also have the best home record 31-4, and the best road record at 26-12. They are 29-4 against teams under .500, and they’re 28-12 against .500+ teams. They had an 8-game winning streak snapped against San Antonio on Friday and are 11-2 for the month of March.

They also have the third-highest team salary in the NBA at $84.7M which is $3M less than second place Dallas and $6.6M less than 1st place Lakers. Maybe you CAN buy a Championship. Cleveland has been spending money to try to build a winning team, and give LeBron James a reason to stick around. It started in June 2009 when they traded Sasha Pavlovic, Ben Wallace and a 2010 2nd round pick to Phoenix for Shaquille O’Neal and his $21M contract. It continued in July when they resigned Anderson Varejao to a 6yr $48M contract, and signed FA Anthony Parker to a 2yr $5.5M contract. That was followed by a 2yr $6M offer sheet to Jamario Moon, which Miami refuse to match. And the final step took place at the trade deadline, when they traded Big Z, a 2010 1st round pick and the rights to Emir Preldzic to Washington for Sebastian Telfair and Antawn Jamison. At least that was suppose to be the end until Shaq went down with an injury, so on March 23rd Cleveland resigned Ilgauskas after he was released by Washington.

With O’Neal out with an injured right thumb, JJ Hickson, a 6-9 240lb forward who is in his 3rd year, has moved into the starting center spot. In March he’s averaging 11.6pts/6.1rebs on 54.7% shooting.

Jamison, who moved into the starting PF spot soon after arriving, is averaging 15.8pts/8.5rebs/ on 48.5% field and 40.9% from three, which is slightly below his seasonal average in scoring but then here he’s not the star, LeBron is.

Anthony Parker, a 6-6 215lb guard who may be best known as the brother of WNBA All-Star Candace Parker, has started all 73 games at SG. Selected by New Jersey in the first round (21st overall) pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. He played for several teams, but eventually left the NBA and played with Maccabi Tel Aviv from 2000-2007. He returned to the NBA in the 2007-2008 season with Toronto.  His shooting is down in March, 38.2% field and 30.4% from three, after shooting 50% and 45.9% respectively in February.

Mo Williams, the 6-1 190lb PG is averaging 12.4pts/5.8assts for March on 40.7% from the field and 38.2% from three, which is far below his seasonal averages of 43.3% field and 42.2% from three.

Delonte West, a 6-3 180lb guard, averages 24mpg off the bench. In the two games since rejoining the team Ilgauskas has averaged 3pts/3rebs in 18mpg. Anderson Varejao is averaging 9.6pts/7.8rebs on 69.2% shooting in just under 20mpg for March. Also seeing limited minutes are Jawad Williams, a 6-9 220lb forward, Leon Powe, a 6-8 240lb forward, and Daniel Gibson,  a 6-2 200lb guard.

For the game against the Kings, Telfair is out with a ruptured groin, and Anderson Varejao is questionable with a left hamstring injury.

Back on Dec. 23rd at Arco, the Kings gave the Cavaliers a run for their money and were only down 4 after 3 quarters, before losing in Overtime 117-103. But in the 4th quarter and all the way through OT, Cleveland’s defense clamped down and held the Kings to 8-27 or 29.5% from the field and they missed all seven shots in OT. One might rationalize that the Kings just went cold at the wrong time, but that’s not giving Cleveland the props they deserve.

Cleveland’s defense allows the third lowest FG% and the 5th fewest points per game, but the second half is where they really shine. The Cavs allow only 45 points on average in the 2nd half of games. Teams have only scored over 100 pts 21 times this season and they have the 7th best defense against the 3pt shot, .343. So although the game was close since we did take them to overtime, I’m not sure that the outcome was that unexpected.

Kings.com is reporting Tyreke Evans (concussion) – OUT; Spencer Hawes (lower back strain) - DAY-TO-DAY; and Francisco Garcia (sore right wrist) - DAY-TO-DAY.   So, it doesn’t look like the Kings have enough men to raise the white flag, let alone wage a war.  Nonetheless PW and our finest will be out there giving it there best. We’re probably going to see more of Dominic McGuire and Joey Dorsey than LeBron James, once Cleveland gets out to a decent lead. On the bright side, this will be an opportunity to see one of the finest defenses in all of the NBA.   So, watch closely, admire, and dream of what the Kings will be capable of once they can play defense like that.

THE KEY BATTLE

Donte Greene vs. LeBron James. You lose no matter how you defend The Chosen One, because he can beat you two ways to Tuesday. But at least you can try to get lucky by doubling early, forcing him to become a playmaker, and hoping his teammates miss shots. On the other end, just don't challenge him to much. He has ultraquick hands and famous leaping ability. Greene should stick to the perimeter and wait for the dish from Beno Udrih on the drive or Carl Landry in the post.

BOLD PROCLAMATION

Mike Brown will purchase and wear a Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame Snuggie.

DETAILS

Noon Pacific start. Game threads at noon and 1:15, post-gamer at 2:45.

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