Cavaliers Preview Game #39

Cavaliers vs LakersCleveland Cavaliers (31-7) vs
Los Angeles Lakers (31-8)
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Monday, January 19, 2008
10:30 PM EST

Here we go. The Cleveland Cavaliers kick off their first extended Western Conference road trip of the season. In all reality, the season is about to really get interesting now. The Lakers, Blazers, Warriors, and Jazz on the road, then home for a tune up against Sacramento before hitting the road to play in Orlando. And then February isn’t any easier. Lakers, Suns, Pistons, Raptors, and Grizzlies at home, and the rest of the games on the road. The end of February sees the Cavaliers play a 4 game road trip that extends into March. Their opponents on that stretch are the Rockets, Spurs, Hawks, and Heat. A home game against the Bucks, and then it’s back on the road to Boston. So yeah, while this has been an unbelievable season so far, the Cavaliers are now getting to the meat and potatoes of their schedule, and it begins tonight with a great matchup against the Western Conference leading Los Angeles Lakers.  

Projected Starting Lineups

Cleveland Cavaliers:

-G Mo Williams (16.0 ppg, 3.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 16.44 PER)
-G Sasha Pavlovic (3.8 ppg, 0.9 apg, .420 3P%, 9.87 PER)
-F LeBron James (27.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 6.7 apg, 32.09 PER)
-F Ben Wallace (3.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 13.64 PER)
-C Anderson Varejao (9.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 15.58 PER)

Key Reserves: Daniel Gibson, Wally Szczerbiak, J.J. Hickson, Lorenzen Wright

Injuries: Delonte West (out), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (out), Eric Snow (out)

Los Angeles Lakers:

-G Derek Fisher (11.3 ppg, 3.8 apg, 1.3 spg, 13.22 PER)
-G Kobe Bryant (27.2 ppg, 4.9 apg, .365 3P%, 24.95 PER)
-F Vladimir Radmanovic (6.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 0.9 apg, 12.41 PER)
-F Pau Gasol (17.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 0.9 bpg, 21.76 PER)
-C Andrew Bynum (12.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 17.68 PER)

Key Reserves: Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton

Injuries: Lamar Odom (probable), Luke Walton (probable), Sasha Vujacic (day to day), Jordan Farmar (out)

Team Efficiency Stats

Cleveland Cavaliers:

-Off (100.9 ppg, 41.6 rpg, .478 FG%, .758 FT%, 20.2 apg, Eff-110.0, Rank-2)
-Def (89.0 ppg, 38.3 rpg, .419 FG%, Eff-96.2, Rank-1)

Los Angeles Lakers:

-Off (107.6 ppg, 44.0 rpg, .474 FG%, .771 FT%, 23.1 apg, Eff-110.4, Rank-1)
-Def (99.6 ppg, 41.3 rpg, .449 FG%, Eff-102.0, Rank-5)

Previous Matchups


Game Notes

While this game looks to be a tremendous challenge to the Cavaliers, the one thing they can reflect upon to give themselves some confidence is that they have won 5 straight against the Lakers and 2 in a row at the Staples Center. The Cavaliers are 11-1 against the Western Conference overall and 5-1 on the road against Western Conference foes. In general, it seems that the Cavaliers have played better against the West than the East, in the regular season, anyway. In each of the last 2 seasons, and then including this season, the Cavaliers have had a better win percentage against the West than the East. So, the Cavaliers have that going for them.

For the Lakers, they are starting to get healthy. Lamar Odom has already returned to the team, and now Luke Walton is expected to play tonight. The Lakers are finishing off a tough stretch of their schedule that included games against the Rockets, Spurs, and Magic. The Lakers have dropped their last two games in that stretch. So, the Cavaliers will be facing a motivated Lakers team tonight, you would guess.

The Lakers got off to a remarkable start this year, just destroying every team that stood before them, similar to the Cavaliers’ impressive stretch in November. Injuries and perhaps complacency have brought the Lakers back down to earth, but even on earth they are arguably the most talented team in the NBA. As much as Kobe may be the focal point, the Lakers are extremely well rounded, they play fast and furious, their offense is next to unstoppable except for the rare nights when their shots aren’t going down, and their defense is better than the numbers show. Their bench is incredibly deep and talented as well. Just look at the difference between these benches tonight. When the Cavaliers need to rest LeBron, Mo, and AV, they’ll be replaced by Daniel Gibson, Wally Szczerbiak, and JJ Hickson. As for the Lakers, they’ll be bringing in guys like Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza, and Sasha Vujacic (if healthy). Not exactly an even level of talent.

Where the Cavaliers will need to find an edge is on defense. While the Lakers really are a good defensive team, they’re not on the same level as the Cavaliers are. However, while the Lakers offense is outstanding, the Cavaliers’ possession-adjusted numbers are just barely behind the Lakers. Without Delonte, the offense will struggle a bit more, and on the road, the Cavs won’t have the crowd to pick them up like they do at the Q. What this means is that the Cavaliers will have to take it upon themselves to bring the extra effort and hustle on defense to be able to beat the Lakers.

There’s no doubt this game is a tough matchup for the Cavaliers as the Lakers are getting healthy now while Cleveland is losing guys left and right. Who knows if Ben Wallace has his energy back and has put his weight back on. Who knows if LeBron’s head cold has cleared up yet. The odds are stacked against them, but hopefully they will work on some of the things on offense that we discussed in earlier posts. Hopefully they will feed off the confidence from beating New Orleans the other night and the confidence that comes from knowing they’ve been able to beat the Lakers in the past with Sasha Pavlovic in the starting lineup.

Most of all, though, I just want to see a game I can enjoy. This is a brutal way to start a road trip. If the Cavaliers get thrashed in this game, it will kill their momentum for the upcoming games. This shouldn’t be a game the Cavaliers will have a tough time getting up, for. This os Kobe vs LeBron. This is perhaps a preview of the NBA Finals, and both teams will want to prove their worth tonight. If you can’t get excited about a game like this, then I’m not sure you’re in the NBA to begin with.

Vegas Line

Los Angeles –5
Over/Under 201.5

From The Outside Looking In

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Next Game For The Cavaliers

Wednesday, January 21, 2009
10:00 PM EST
Cleveland Cavaliers at Portland Trail Blazers

  • Humboldt

    good analysis, as usual. Can’t wait for the game tonight

  • Graham

    Can’t wait for the game tonight, but doubt i can watch it :( school tomorrow and its a late game :(

  • Jay

    I fear that because we’re shorthanded, the Lakers might win, then those idiot Laker fans will be happier than pigs in mud. God I hate west coast swings. The tivo’s gonna get a work out this week.

  • Lyon

    Thank God they’re being hit by the injury bug as well. Wouldn’t be a good matchup if they were full strength and us the way we are.

  • Pittsburgh is for Man Lovers

    Did anybody else see K2 sitting behind the Lakers bench?

  • Lyon

    LBJ has stopped driving since he’s not getting any calls at the hoop. He better get out of that mood since his J is not good enough to carry us to victory while we’re getting killed inside on the other side of the floor

  • Swig

    At least you got one half of pseudo-enjoyable basketball.

  • Eli

    Glad we’ve decided to swallow the whistles tonight.

  • Chris

    This is why we need home court in the playoffs. I’d forgotten how biased officials can be in the NBA for home court teams. This is a joke how many times Lebron has been fouled and not gotten the call.

  • DCBucks

    Yes, but if you might graze Kobe’s hangnail 3 whistles compete to be first on the call. Never mind that it takes LeBron getting elbowed in the throat intentionally just to get a call.

  • Mark

    No, thats your bias.

  • KN

    Poor, poor officiating tonight…I wonder how the NBA goes about the so-called ‘review’ process for refs to make better calls…I know this team is known for whining a little, but are we really THAT bad? You can’t ignore the fact that we got hacked whenever we went inside and hardly ever got the whistle…

    That being said, its obvious our offense still needs work…its something I’ve been concerned about over the past couple of weeks but it showed tonight against one of the best teams in the league. It seems like its fallen off over the past few games – and you can’t have that on the road.

  • Eli

    The offense will certainly be disjointed without being able to use the “go-to” plays like the kick-out 16 footer to Z, or without the additional sound play of West. It looks like a team that has been limited by its injuries…and it is, especially against a team of the Lakers caliber.

    This game showed how clearly we need another big body in the line-up. Wright was awful every step on the court and Bynum, Odom and Gasol tore us apart in the paint.

  • IRB?

    Didn’t see anything, just know that the Cavs were down 8 with 10 to go, then it got opened up like all hell broke loose.

    Hopefully the Cavs don’t get Odenized later this week.

  • MacNip

    Well, last night showed that we need Z back in a big way. We have zwro socring out of our big men. I know the popular thinking is that Ferry is going to make a move for a swing player, but I really think we need some big man help.

    whistles were swallowed on both sides as a whole last night, except for on Kobe. Interesting, but you deal with it and find a way to win