Cavaliers start road trip in New Orleans tonight
By Zac Jackson
FOX Sports Ohio
November 19, 2010
Previewing tonight's Cavaliers-Hornets game...
THE DETAILS: Cavaliers (5-5) at Hornets (9-1), New Orleans Arena, 8 p.m. ET. Fred McLeod and Austin Carr have the call on Fox Sports Ohio.
THE STARTERS: The Cavaliers might again be without Mo Williams (groin), who's on the trip and practiced Thursday but will be a Friday decision. If Williams can't go they'll go with Ramon Sessions at the point along with Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon, J.J. Hickson and Anderson Varejao, who will again wear a protective covering for his sore ribs but should be able to play his usual minutes.
The red-hot Hornets will likely go with their usual lineup: Chris Paul and Marco Belinelli at guard, Trevor Ariza and David West at forward and Emeka Okafor at center.
THE SCOOP: The schedule turns nasty for the Cavaliers and starts with a very special one for head coach Byron Scott, who a year ago was coaching this Hornets team. But Scott said this week this is "just another road trip" and is focused on his team's growth and the chance to play spoiler this weekend against the Hornets and Spurs, the NBA's only remaining one-loss teams.
Scott didn't hide his admiration for Paul, whom he coached for Paul's first five NBA seasons. Paul is having an MVP-type start to the season, making explosive plays off the dribble, directing traffic for his upgraded supporting cast and averaging 18 points and 10 assists per night. All five Hornets starters are scoring in double figures for new coach Monty Williams, with David West just behind Paul at 16 points per game.
How do the Cavaliers keep pace in this one? By containing Paul, taking care of the ball and maximizing opportunities at the defensive end. It'll take a total team effort, and the Cavaliers enter the weekend with the league's highest-scoring bench at 44.1 points per game. Antawn Jamison's steady presence and Daniel Gibson's career bests are leading that effort, while Ryan Hollins has given the Cavaliers quality minutes and Joey Graham has played his way into the rotation. The versatility of Jamison, Graham, Parker and Gibson, to name a few, gives Scott flexibility and options.
The battle on the glass is always key for the Cavaliers as Hickson has improved his scoring but not his rebounding and Varejao is clearly one of the most -- if not the most -- valuable players on the Cavaliers roster. Okafor is averaging 10.3 rebounds to lead the Hornets.
Getting off to a good start will be key. The Hornets have held the halftime lead in six of their nine wins.
MAGIC NUMBERS: Jamison enters the weekend needing 4 rebounds and 1 3-pointer to join Scottie Pippen and Dirk Nowitzki as the only players in NBA history with 7,000 rebounds, 900 3-pointers and 17,000 career points.
THE SERIES: The Cavaliers have won three straight in the series. The second meeting of the season is set for national television in Cleveland on March 6.
WHAT'S AHEAD: The Cavaliers' road doesn't get any easier as they fly after the game to San Antonio for a Saturday night game with the Spurs, then start a stretch of four games in five days Tuesday at Indiana.