Most stories today will fixate on the problem in Cleveland, and the most germane evidence will be the seeming “disinterest” and “passive-aggressive lesson-teaching” from LeBron James. But if you want some statistical evidence that things aren’t even close to clicking in Cleveland, you need look no further than the “assist” column in yesterday’s loss to Utah. The young Jazz had 26 assists. The veteran Cavaliers had SIX. Not “LeBron James had six assists” or point guard “Kyrie Irving had six assists.” The TEAM. In fact, LeBron tallied just a single helper, while POINT GUARD Kyrie Irving scored 31 points without notching a single assist. By the sneakers of Kobe Bryant, How is that even possible??!?
Regardless, the Cavs are off to an overreaction-worthy 1-3 start, but before the alarms sound, remember they play in the East.
Because in the West? It could be a real problem. The Grizzlies and Rockets are now 5-0 and the Warriors are 4-0, and none were expected to be among the Top 4 in the West. That conference is insanely deep and looks even better this season than last.
It’s a limited schedule on Thursday nights in the NBA with the only pair of games being the doubleheader on TNT. Nonetheless, we will try to grab a winning play off the limited slate of action.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Dallas Mavericks at Portland Trailblazers -2.5 (Total: 206)
Ok Dallas, want to prove you are a legit contender in the West? Go into Portland and show the nation something tonight. Dallas had emerged as a trendy pick in the West to challenge the “big three” of San Antonio, OKC and the Clippers after a flurry of offseason moves that strengthened their offense (Chandler Parsons) defense (Tyson Chandler) and brought in Jameer Nelson and JJ Barrea to stabilize the point guard rotation. The results have looked promising early, with the Mavs only defeat coming on the road opening night at San Antonio by a single point.
Tonight they will get a legit test at Portland and against a good Blazers team that is tough on its home floor. Look for Portland to make a big move after halftime to grab control of this game. The Mavs are allowing a league worst 33.25 points in the third quarter this season, and it has allowed a few lesser teams to get back into ball games. If they have a similar lull tonight on the road it could spell real trouble.
Portland matches up well position by position with the new-look Mavs and has a nice edge with Lillard over Jameer/Harris/Barrea. The Mavs will likely have to switch Tyson Chandler onto LaMarcus Alderidge, which could lead to some nice opportunities for Lopez inside.
I like this Dallas team, but winning in Portland is a tough ask. The Blazers had a night to rest after their easy win over the struggling Cavs, so expect them to be ready for a big national TV game tonight.