By DeArbea Walker
Quicken Loans Arena sits calm and empty, overlooking downtown Cleveland, the score board blank with nothing on it, quietly awaiting the arrival of the Los Angeles Clippers. The Cleveland Cavaliers are set to take on the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday evening with both teams near the top of their respective divisions and conference.
Unlike conference opponents, these two teams only square off twice a year.
The first meeting the teams had this season, was under the bright lights of the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. They will now square off in different scenery. Quicken Loans Arena will be the focal point on Thursday night, and the Clippers will look to avenge their home loss by handing the Cavs a home loss of their own.
The Clippers are coming into this game with a record of 33-16 (ESPN). The Cavaliers are coming into this game with a record of 30-20 (ESPN) after pounding the 76ers Monday 97-84, and winning 11 straight. Both of these teams scored over 120 points in their last meeting. It was pure offense with hardly anything on the defensive end. However, that game was right after the return of LeBron James from his back/knee injury, and the Cavaliers defense was not at the level it is now. Since beating the Clippers, the Cavaliers have not allowed any team to score over 100 points.
The Clippers in return have only allowed 4 out of their 9 opponents to score over 100 points, which makes for an interesting matchup for both teams defensively.
Changing the focus of this match-up, the offenses of both teams are nothing short of sensational. We know that both teams can score over 100 points, but there has to be another level of depth from both rosters, something and someone deeper than the starting five that can make a difference. While Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving, and LeBron James may be the faces of their teams, someone else may have to step up to win this game. What player wouldn’t want the opportunity to shine beside either one of these duos? In a battle between All-Stars, which group will perform well enough to lead their team to victory Thursday night?
In order for the Clippers to be placed in a position to win this game they will need good performances from their bench. Yes, they have one of the best Power Forwards in the game, but it’s going to take more than Blake Griffin carrying the team on his back. Every position has to step up defensively if they plan to beat the Cavaliers Thursday evening.