|NBA: Cleveland Cavs at Phoenix Suns Preview & Picks|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Sunday, 04 November 2007 02:39|
Shootout in the Desert?
Last season, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers suffered a humbling sweep in the NBA Finals, while Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns were eliminated in the conference semifinals by the eventual champions.
This season, James and Nash both have their sights set on winning their respective franchise's first NBA title.
The Cavaliers and Suns meet Sunday in an early matchup between conference favorites at US Airways Center, where Phoenix has won the last eight meetings.
Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Phoenix -8.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 208.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 64% of bets for this game have been placed on Cleveland +8.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).
Both teams lost to San Antonio in the playoffs. The Suns fell in six games while the Cavaliers fared even worse in the Finals.
Cleveland (1-1) got off to a slow start this season with a 92-74 loss to Dallas on Wednesday, but bounced back with a 110-106 victory over New York on Friday. James scored just 10 points in the season opener - all in the second half - but had 45 points against the Knicks.
"It's about showing a little energy," said James, who added seven rebounds and seven assists on Friday. "I don't think I played with the energy I know I can play with on Wednesday, and I came out with a lot of energy (Friday)."
Cleveland now embarks on season-high six-game road trip against Western Conference opponents.
"We know it is early in the season, but at the same time you want to see where your team is against some of the better Western Conference teams," James said. "It's going to be a good test for us."
James has had success against Phoenix in his career, but it hasn't resulted in many victories for Cleveland.
In eight career games against the Suns, James is averaging 31.6 points - his highest scoring average against any opponent - but the Cavs have won just two of those contests.
Phoenix swept the season series over Cleveland in 2006-07, winning the two games by an average of 17 points. The Suns have won 13 of 16 over the Cavs since 1999-2000, including the last eight at home.
Nash helped the Suns (1-1) post the league's second-best home record last season (33-8), but they are coming off a humiliating 119-106 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in their home opener on Friday. Phoenix, the three-time defending Pacific Division champion, fell behind by 17 in the second quarter, 29 in the third and an embarrassing 33 in the fourth.
"For whatever reason, the juice wasn't there, and it's got to be," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We can't be small, light and slow, and that's what we were. I don't have any doubt that the next game we're going to come back and we'll fix our problems and we'll be a great team."
Nash had 19 points but only three assists and sat out the fourth quarter against the Lakers. In the two games against Cleveland last season, the two-time MVP had 27 points and 36 assists, including a season-high 21 assists in the Suns' 109-90 home win on Jan. 11.
Amare Stoudemire had four points on 2-for-10 shooting with one rebound on Friday after scoring a team-high 23 points on 10-of-20 shooting with 11 boards in the season opener. Stoudemire had 39 points and 20 rebounds in the two games against Cleveland in 2006-07.
Four-time All-Star Shawn Marion, who has scored 14 points in each of the first two games this season, is averaging 22.3 points and 9.5 rebounds in his last four games against the Cavs.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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