GameDay Preview: Cavs at Trail Blazers

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Alonzo Gee, Nicolas Batum
David Liam Kyle/NBAE/GettyImages

Game Summary

The Cleveland Cavaliers (9-31) travel to Portland tonight to face the Trail Blazers (20-18) for the fourth game of their five-game road trip out West. Tipoff is at 10:00 p.m. ET.

Through the first three games of the road trip, the Cavs are forcing 19.0 turnovers per game, while scoring an average of 20.7 points off of their opponent miscues. The Cavs have forced at least 20 turnovers in two of the last three games and rank 4th in the NBA in opponent turnovers per game at 15.8.

Portland comes into tonight's contest looking to bounce back from a hard-fought overtime loss last night in Denver. The Blazers have a balanced scoring attack from both the perimeter and down low. All five Portland starters average 12.0 points or higher led by center, LaMarcus Aldridge, at 20.5 points per game. Rookie point guard, Damian Lillard, leads all NBA first-year players with an 18.3 point per game scoring average.

Probable Starters/Injury Report* presented by Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland ClinicCavaliers: PG - Kyrie Irving, SG - C.J. Miles, SF - Alonzo Gee
PF - Tristan Thompson, C - Tyler Zeller

Trail Blazers: PG - Damian Lillard, SG - Wesley Matthews, SF - Nicolas Batum
PF - J.J. Hickson, C - LaMarcus Aldridge

Injuries: (Cavs) - Anderson Varejao, (Vastus Medialis Split/Surgery, Out)
(Trail Blazers) - Meyers Leonard, (Right Ankle, Out), Elliot Williams, (Left Achilles Tendon, Out)

*Subject to change

Head-to-Head Matchup

The Cavaliers trail the all-time series against the Trail Blazers 62-48 posting a 31-24 mark in games played at home with the Blazers tallying a 38-17 record in games played in their home arena. Cleveland has won 11 of the last 17 meetings with Portland and have split the last eight contests at the Rose Garden.

In their only other meeting this season (Dec. 1), Cleveland set a season-high with 32 assists and eight Cavaliers scored at least 10 points in a double-overtime loss to Portland. It was the Cavs first double-overtime game since January 11, 2008 against Charlotte.

Key to the Game/Key Matchup

Key to the Game

Bench Play

Portland comes into tonight's game with the league's lowest scoring bench. The highest reserve scorer is rookie, Meyers Leonard, at just 4.7 points per game.

With the Blazers coming off an overtime loss the night prior, they will have to lean on their bench for some support in tonight's contest and the Wine and Gold should be able to take advantage.

Cavs rookie reserve, Dion Waiters, should have the best opportunity to step up tonight against the depleted Blazers second unit. In the Wine and Gold's last outing on Monday, Waiters scored 16 points in the fourth quarter and finished with a career-high 33 points on 12-18 (.667) shooting, two rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes off the bench.

Key Matchup

Cavs bigs vs. Blazers bigs

The aforementioned LaMarcus Aldridge has 20 or more points in each of his last four matchups against Cleveland. Aldridge has played like an All-Star this season and scored a season-high 33 points against Oklahoma City just three days ago, making a season-best 15 field goals in the process. Furthermore, Aldridge has seven games this season of at least 12 made field goals.

Aldridge's frontcourt mate, former Cavalier JJ Hickson, recorded 10 straight, point-rebound double-doubles at the Rose Garden between Nov. 23, 2012 and Jan. 7, 2013. Hickson enters tonight's game averaging a double-double with 12.0 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.

In the absence of Anderson Varejao, the Cavalier young frontcourt tandem has been just as effective.

Tristan Thompson recorded his 14th double-double of the season with 17 points on 7-14 (.500) shooting, a game-high 15 rebounds (eight offensive) and four assists in 38 minutes against Sacramento on Monday. The second-year big has recorded nine double-doubles in his last 14 contests (since Dec. 19), averaging 13.4 points on .507 shooting, 12.0 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 34.8 minutes per game over that stretch.

Rookie center, Tyler Zeller, posted 13 points, six rebounds and a career-high four blocks in 34 minutes on Monday. Among rookie qualifiers, Zeller is ranked 4th in rebounds (5.7), 4th in blocks (0.9), 7th in minutes (26.8) and 7th in points (8.1). In the last 14 games (all starts), he is averaging 10.0 points, including shooting .818 (36-44) from the foul line, 6.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 33.8 minutes per game.

Where to Catch the Action

TV: FSOhio HD, NBA League Pass
Radio: WTAM 1100, XM 218, Sirius 123, NBA League Pass Audio