Tip Off: 4:00 PM (PST)

Projected Starters

Cavaliers                                                                    Golden State

PG – Kyrie Irving                                                     Charles Jenkins

SG –  Anthony Parker                                              Monta Ellis

SF –  Omri Casspi                                                      Dorell Wright

PF – Antawn Jamison                                             David Lee

C –    Anderson Varejao                                          Andris Biedrins

Scope the opposition: Get your Cavs fix at Cavs The Blog and also at Fear the Sword.

Preview: After winning in Detroit on Sunday, the Golden State Warriors (4-9) will play the third contest of their four-game eastern road trip today when they travel to the Quicken Loans Arena to play the Cleveland Cavaliers (6-6). The Cavs are coming off a road victory in Charlotte that concluded their seven-game road trip.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are tougher opponent than most think given their poor showing last season. The arrival of Kyrie Irving coupled with the return of Anderson Varejao has changed the outlook of the Cavs and made them a somewhat of a middle of the pack team.

So far this season, Cleveland has a 99.0 offensive efficiency rating (18th in the NBA) and shoots 43 percent from the field (21st in the league). The Cavs may be an average team on offense, but they still create a lot of problems for opponents thanks to the talents of Antawn Jamison and Anderson Varejao.

Indeed, Byron Scott has given his players the green light to essentially take whatever shot they want and it shows. But for the most part, the players try to take good high percentage shots instead of displaying questionable shot selection. For instance, Jamison may at times look trigger-happy, but he will only look to score when he is within his preferred spots on the court.

The former Tar Heel will try to post up defenders, then take them out on the perimeter for long-range shots and even take a few midrange shots. But more importantly, he is constantly in movement, which leads to him routinely getting open. For example, on the same offensive trip, it’s not uncommon to see Jamison go pick-and-pop with Irving and then when the ball is passed to another perimeter player, Jamison will run to that teammate and then go pick-and-roll with him to keep the defense off balance. Needless to say, the constant movement makes him hard to follow around.

The other variable in the equation is the Brazilian center. He is not much of an offensive option for the Cavs, although he will finish around the basket. His value on the team comes in the form of his passing. When teams trap the Cavaliers perimeter players, Varejao is one of the best pressure release points on the team because he can dribble and then find the open man or simply take it to the basket himself.

The talents of both big men are part of the reason that Cleveland scores 42.5 points in the paint per game (fifth in the NBA). But let’s not forget that the Cavaliers have an emerging point guard in Kyrie Irving that has shown the ability to get by his man and finish at the rim amongst the trees or simply convert the easy shot attempt from midrange.

Where the Cavs really cause trouble for opponents is with their perimeter shooting. They will try to live in the lane as much as they can, but they are able to do so because teams are very much afraid of rotating off of Anthony Parker, Daniel Gibson as well as Antawn Jamison when they are camped out at the 3-point line; considering that the Cavaliers convert 36.4 percent of their 3-point shots (10th in the association).

On defense, the Cavaliers are a tough team to score on because they have active big men that are more than capable of helping out in the pick-and-roll action. The best on the team is none other than Anderson Varejao, who does an excellent job of showing hard on the ball handler and then getting back to his man promptly. He is also good at trapping perimeter players without allowing the opponent to split the trap. Granted the elite ball handlers will be able to do so, but his defense is nonetheless solid in this aspect.

As a result, the Cavaliers sport a 99.6 defensive efficiency rating (13th in the league) and surrender 45.2 percent field goal shooting from the field (21st in the NBA).

The Cavs are a team that likes to get into help position to thwart attempts at the rim, but save for Tristan Thompson, they lack shot blockers. Also, despite having good defensive numbers, the team does a poor job of defending the paint as evidenced by their 40.9 points in the paint allowed per game (21st in the association).

Teams can get into the lane against Cleveland because they do not have any quality defenders on the perimeter and also because teams can easily take advantage of Antawn Jamison in the pick-and-roll action. The North Carolina product lacks the foot speed to consistently jump out on the player with the ball and then get back to his man; which means that the Cavs need to have their players within proximity to protect against the man catching the ball in the lane. Consequently, players can catch the ball on the perimeter, pump fake and then get to the rim.

Expect the Warriors to go to David Lee early and often against Jamison on the block, but the Dubs will probably also attack him in the pick-and-roll to see if they can free up their perimeter players for open shots.

Andris Biedrins has shown a high propensity to foul as of late, so having him matched up against Anderson Varejao may prove to be to his benefit since the Brazilian center is a passer and open jump shooter more than anything else on offense. Mind you, if the Cavs perimeter players manage to get into the lane with any type of consistency, expect them not only to finish but also to get fouled since the Dubs do not have anyone to anchor the paint other then possibly Ekpe Udoh.

Newsworthy: Stephen Curry was aiming for this game to make his return from his ankle injury.

Golden State game notes: In his last five games, David Lee is averaging 21.4 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists on 61.8 percent field goal shooting.

Cleveland game notes: In his last five games, Kyrie Irving is averaging 22.6 points, 5.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game on 55 percent shooting from the field and 40 percent 3-point shooting.

Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can contact me by email at [email protected].