In playing their finest team game of the season, the Blazers vanquished Kobe Bryant back to the city of Los Angeles. But what's it going to take to rid the Rose Garden of one more Nike-approved hoops superstar? The Cleveland Cavaliers are 10-3 against the Blazers since the team passed on Darko Milicic for some reason and drafted LeBron James instead. This includes their current five game winning streak, and a pair of recent heroic games for LeBron on the Blazers' hardwood.
In case you drank these painful memories away, let me refresh them for you: There was January 30th, 2008, where a King James' layup with .9 seconds on the clock gave the Cavs a 84-83 victory. James took out his frustration on being blocked by commoner Joel Przybilla, and completely took over that game. Well, at least the Blazers won't have to worry about that happening again. Your second scariest (non-clown) nightmare comes from January 21st of last year, where James dropped a beastly 34 points and 14 assists, and Mo Williams punished the home team by shooting six-for-nine beyond the arch and netting 33 points on the night. Cleveland won by a score of 104-98.
So how to do you beat the Cavs? Keep them under 98 points. Cleveland is 23-1 when they top the 98 point mark, but a mere 5-9 when they fall short of that magic number. Curious to what they scored in their loss in Denver on Friday? 97 points. Of course, for Portland there is the issue of defending big players—Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Anderson Varejao, and the beached remnants of a creature known as Shaq—with a lineup that lacks Przybilla, Greg Oden, and the medical oddity we shall refer to as Pryzboden—two injured centers seemed too risky, so the team's surgeons melded the two players together to form one super tall center. Pryzboden is over 14 feet tall and weighs 505 pounds. So, basically it's as tall as Ilgauskas, and as round as Shaq.
The Blazers will need Juwan Howard to keep up his solid play, and Jeff Pendergraph to pretend he's not a rookie and throw some of that muscle, and crazy, around. And if that wasn't enough, Portland will require another spectacular defensive night from Martell Webster, who will get a ticker tape parade down Burnside if he can shut down Kobe and LeBron in the same weekend.
And don't worry about Shaq. If Aaron Carter can beat him, anyone can.