Game 68 Preview: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

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Blazers: 38-29

Cavs: 13-53

Game Details: Rose Garden, Portland, OR. 7:00 PM. TV: NBA TV, CSN. Radio: KXTG (95.5 FM).

Projected Portland Starting Lineup: PG Andre Miller (#24, 6’3″, Utah), SG Wesley Matthews (#2, 6’5″, Marquette), SF Nicolas Batum (#88, 6’8″, France), PF Gerald Wallace (#3, 6’7″, Alabama), C LaMarcus Aldridge (#12, 6’11″, Texas)

Projected Cleveland Starting Lineup: PG Ramon Sessions (#3, 6’3″, Nevada), SG Anthony Parker (#18, 6’6″, Bradley), SF Alonzo Gee (#33, 6’6″, Alabama), PF Samardo Samuels (#24, 6’9″, Louisville), C J.J. Hickson (#21, 6’9″, North Carolina State)

This will be very short, for obvious reasons. The Cleveland Cavaliers are the worst team in the league and one of the worst teams in NBA history. There’s nobody in their lineup over whom the Blazers don’t have a significant matchup advantage. Hell, Portland’s second unit is better than Cleveland’s starters. The Blazers beat the Cavs in February, but not by nearly enough. That was before the trading deadline and Brandon Roy’s return, though, and right now there’s pretty much zero margin for error for the Blazers. Coming off a win over Miami with a loss to Charlotte was bad enough—if Portland follows up Tuesday’s impressive win over the second-seeded Mavericks with a loss at home to this Cavs team, well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. But it wouldn’t be pretty. As it is, the Blazers only have two true bottom-feeders left in their schedule, the Cavs and the Wizards. Not only are those games must-wins, they’re arguably even must-blow-outs. Portland still has a significant amount of games left against the top four teams in the west, and the less energy spent fighting for wins over the Cavs that shouldn’t be close, the better. If Portland comes out firing in the first half and builds a lead of 20 or more, that should be plenty. Rest the starters the whole second half, if possible.

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