One benefit of the Cavaliers trading for Antawn Jamison is that it may help them match up better against the Orlando Magic. The Magic were able to eliminate the Cavaliers from the playoffs last year because of the matchup problems they caused, particularly in the frontcourt.
In the off-season, the Cavaliers added Shaquille O’Neal, who has done a great job defending Dwight Howard both times the two teams have met this season. With the addition of Jamison to defend Rashard Lewis, some believe that the Cavs can now handle the Magic on defense.
However, Lewis isn’t worrying about the new-look Cavaliers. The Orlando Sentinel’s Tania Ganguli
reports that Lewis said the following:
“It doesn’t scare me,” Lewis said. “I’ve been on all star teams as well as him. I think it’s going to come down to who executes better on the defensive end. Most definitely a great player. … At the same time one guy doesn’t win ballgames. They do have another guy called LeBron James which is going to be our focus.”
Lewis has had serious problems with Jamison in the past. John Schuhmann of NBA.com tweeted last night that in his past 9 games against Jamison, Lewis has averaged 12.8 points per game on 38% shooting. The Cavaliers would be thrilled if Jamison can hold Lewis to anywhere near that level of play when and if the teams meet in a playoff series.
Ultimately, Jamison’s numbers are a good omen for the Cavaliers, but don’t mean Lewis is incapable of having offensive success against Jamison. Lewis is a 6-10 power forward who will launch threes at the bat of an eyelash. When he’s on, there’s no stopping him. When he’s off, there’s no defender who doesn’t look great. It’s possible to make Lewis’ life more difficult, but there’s no way to guarantee safety against a shooter of his caliber. If his confidence is high and he’s in a groove when the Magic play the Cavaliers, you can throw Jamison’s previous numbers against Lewis out the window.