Cavaliers Preview Game #49

Cavaliers vs LakersLos Angeles Lakers (40-9) vs
Cleveland Cavaliers (39-9)
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Sunday, February 8, 2009
3:30 PM EST
ABC/WTAM

Today’s game is another mildly huge game for the Cavaliers. With a win over the Lakers, the Cavaliers will move into first place in the NBA in Win Pct (and if the Spurs can beat the Celtics, the Cavs will move into first place in the NBA in record as well). With a couple winnable games at Indiana and against Phoenix at home, the Cavaliers have a chance to put them in position to have the Association’s best record at the All-Star Break. You don’t win any trophies for it, and franchises like the Celtics and Lakers would find no moral victory in it, but for a franchise like the Cavaliers, it would be a really nice accomplishment and a testament to Dan Gilbert, Danny Ferry, and Mike Brown’s vision for this franchise. Oh, and LeBron probably has a little to do with it, too.  

Projected Starting Lineups

Los Angeles Lakers:

-G Derek Fisher (10.8 ppg, 3.8 apg, 1.3 spg, 12.99 PER)
-G Kobe Bryant (27.5 ppg, 5.1 apg, .367 3P%, 25.33 PER)
-F Luke Walton (4.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.1 apg, 10.52 PER)
-F Lamar Odom (9.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.1 bpg, 14.76 PER)
-C Pau Gasol (18.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 0.9 bpg, 22.31 PER)

Key Reserves: Trevor Ariza, Jordan Farmar,  Sasha Vujacic, Josh Powell

Injuries: Andrew Bynum (out)

Cleveland Cavaliers:

-G Mo Williams (17.1 ppg, 4.2 apg, 0.8 spg, 16.86 PER)
-G Sasha Pavlovic (4.9 ppg, 1.2 apg, .450 3P%, 10.97 PER)
-F LeBron James (28.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 7.0 apg, 31.93 PER)
-F Ben Wallace (3.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 12.63 PER)
-C Zydrunas Ilgauskas (13.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 20.05 PER)

Key Reserves: Anderson Varejao, Daniel Gibson, Wally Szczerbiak, JJ Hickson

Injuries: Delonte West (out), Tarence Kinsey (out), Eric Snow (out), Wally Szczerbiak (probable), Sasha Pavlovic (probable), Lorenzen Wright (probable)

Team Efficiency Stats

Los Angeles Lakers:

-Off (108.9 ppg, 44.1 rpg, .480 FG%, .769 FT%, 23.2 apg, Eff-111.6, Rank-1)
-Def (100.3 ppg, 41.0 rpg, .449 FG%, Eff-102.5, Rank-5)

Cleveland Cavaliers:

-Off (101.0 ppg, 41.7 rpg, .475 FG%, .754 FT%, 20.3 apg, Eff-110.4, Rank-2)
-Def (90.7 ppg, 38.4 rpg, .425 FG%, Eff-98.5, Rank-2)

Previous Matchups

  1. Cleveland 88 at Los Angeles 105 [box]

Game Notes

The old sayings would all seem to indicate it’s better to be a great defensive team than it is to be a great offensive team. Defense wins championships. A great defense can always stop a great offense. And so on and so forth. This is perhaps the first preview we’ve done all year where one team is better in every single offensive stat above, while the other team is better in every single defensive stat. So, advantage Cleveland, right? Not quite. The problem is, the Lakers are a great defensive team as well. And when two great defenses play each other, give the edge to the better offensive team. That formula proved true when the Lakers and Cavs played at Staples last month.

This game will be different, though, and there are some things giving the Cavaliers the edge. First of all, this game is at the Q, where the Cavs are undefeated this season. Second the last time these two teams met, the Cavs were without Ilgauskas. Now, Z is back for Cleveland and the Lakers are without their center, Andrew Bynum. Finally, the Cavaliers are an angry and motivated team right now. In a week in which this team twice felt sorely disrespected and slapped in the face by the league. First, there was the selection of Ray Allen to the All-Star team in place of Jameer Nelson instead of Mo Williams. Then, there was the league’s bizarre decision to review the Knicks game, just take away the one rebound from LeBron, and then release a very public press release to announce the decision. Think the Cavaliers are a little angry about this? Consider this quote from Mo Williams in the Plain Dealer today:

“It’s no secret,” he said. “We feel that whatever we’ve got to get we’ve got to take. There’s nobody going to give us anything. Mentally, that’s strengthened us as a team, knowing that we have to give the extra effort. We’ve got to play even better than we’re capable of playing to get to where we want to get.”

The fact is, this Cavaliers team is on edge right now. After a blazing hot start to the season, they ran into a serious wave of injuries and illnesses, one after another, that continues to this day. Furthermore, their level of play has declined over the last couple months. It’s a testament to the resolve and chemistry of this team that despite these issues, they continue to just win.

Here’s the problem, though. The Cavaliers have not played all that great against other great teams. They do a tremendous job of beating the subpar teams and not losing games they shouldn’t, and that really is an important part of being a great team, but their record against some of the league’s best teams is just average. They are 1-1 against Boston, 0-1 against the Lakers, 0-1 against Orlando, 2-0 against Denver, 1-1 against Atlanta, 1-1 against Detroit, 1-1 against Miami, and 1-1 against New Orleans. It’s time for the Cavaliers to use this angst and edginess that they are feeling right now to good use and to start establishing their will in these games against good opponents.

The Lakers will be without Vladimir Radmanovic, as they have traded him to Charlotte for Adam Morrison and former Cavalier guard Shannon Brown. Morrison and Brown will not be with the Lakers yet today, so the Lakers bench will be a little shorter than usual. For the Cavaliers, they are expected to get Pavlovic and Wright back today, and Wally Szczerbiak will play despite suffering a broken nose last game. He’ll be wearing a mask to help protect his nose.

The last time these two teams met, it wasn’t Kobe who killed the Cavs as much as it was the Lakers size. The Lakers dominated the Cavs down low, scoring at will in the paint and completely owning the glass. With Bynum gone and Z back, perhaps the Cavaliers will be able to hold their own in that area today.

Vegas Line

Cleveland –5
Over/Under 204.5

From The Outside Looking In

Forum Blue And Gold
LABallTalk
Lakers Blog
The Lakers Nation

Next Game For The Cavaliers

Tuesday, February 10, 2009
7:00 PM EST
Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers
FSNOH/WTAM

  • CJG

    “You don’t win any trophies for it…”

    This may be, but I think one of the reasons the Cavs feel so slighted is that they are shaky with huge regular season games like this one. If they lose it, everyone’s opinion outside of NE Ohio will be confirmed…that they are really the Cleveland LeBron’s and that they really aren’t making it back to the Finals. There are no trophies, but this is a statement game, which sometimes, in my view, can be just as important.

    Go Cavs!

  • deep13

    What’s wrong with Wally? Does he have the flu?

  • deep13

    Oops, missed the part about the broken nose.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Craig

    I hope the commentators are ready to talk about defense. I am betting that Lebron will spend most of the afternoon trying to keep Kobe from going off. I guess I could be wrong, but who else would guard Bryant? Sasha?

  • Chip

    I find something really amusing. With the team efficiency stats, seeing the Cavs run the table on defense, and the Lakers on offense.

    Which one trumps the other though? (Dun-Dun-DUUNN!)

  • Nick

    YES! Spurs are going to win.

  • SummitOmar

    Why no live blog?

  • Nick

    Defense is not looking good to start this game. This is not a team we want to get involved in a shootout with…

  • scotty p

    I was hoping (like most of us) that we would just come out and beat LA like a rented mule but they are just scoring at will so far.

  • CJG

    1st Half just ended……Mo’ just swatted Bryant (all-star starter) and dunked it. I am hoping Stern watched that on his TV and got reeeeeaaalllly embarrassed.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dennymayo IRB?

    Cavs blowing things to start the second half but have steadied the ship a bit just now.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dennymayo IRB?

    For the love of god somebody box out Odom.

    JJ has been putting his arm out boxing Andy out instead of Odom.

    Mike Brown looks like RAC staring blankly.

  • B-bo

    Lakers come in for their last game of a 6-game roadie, no Bynum, and an obviously unhealthy Kobe. Z was back (unlike in LA), 23-game winning streak at home, national tv broadcast. Result: the better team won, plain and simple. Still plenty of season left, and the Cavs are still one of the 3 best in the East, but the debate over best team in the league was settled today. Here’s hoping for a rematch in the Finals, where maybe the Cavs will bring some physical play next time.

  • Alex

    What an awful and uninspired second half…

    Can’t wait to read what Windhorst has to write about why he thinks they were so awful and flustered in the second half as well as everyone else and their opinions

  • Jake

    I agree with you B-bo, but I can’t help but wonder how Delonte would change things. He covers Kobe and gives LeBron a break, thus helping his offense and freeing him up to cover Odom, who had no business having the kind of game he had today.

  • Chris

    That second half was uglier than the one in LA.

    Up by 10 at the half and then losing by 10 at the end.

    Ugh!

  • Tsunami

    That half was putrid.

    The craziest part about that game was it was horrible and it could have been much worse.

    Their offense just destroyed us, but we stayed in it by hitting 3s in the first half – they couldn’t hit a 3 all night and they still beat us by double digits.

    They really made us look like a average team (at best) today.

  • http://bitmatt.com bitmatt

    No excuses- the Lakers are straight up the best team in the NBA right now. They are cutting a path of devastation on a roadie through the heart of the Eastern Elite, and with their best player taking IV’s at halftime so as to not pass out. Odom is one of the most underrated players there is- he was a one man wrecking crew on the boards. Here’s hoping things shake out better for us in a possible Finals matchup. Going to need to get dirty in the trenches to beat these guys.

    Oh- and I don’t think you can trade Wally now. If it weren’t for his shooting the Cavs would have been wiped clean away today.

  • http://www.jrosen.wordpress.com Jacob Rosen

    Anyone want to keep arguing against me in bringing Lamar Odom to the Cavaliers this summer?

    Didn’t think so. His 28-point, 17-rebound performance today proved his value to the Lakers, and he remains one of the best low-post scoring threats in the NBA. The broadcasters on ABC today said that he is a great third-option on a championship caliber team, and I couldn’t agree more.

    Even though the Lakers traded Radmanovic, I still highly doubt they will be able to re-sign Ariza AND Odom. Ariza seems like he fits more of a need for the team, as Josh Powell and Ronny Turiaf still have room to develop. Ariza is one of the most under-rated most versatile players in the NBA, and the Lakers would be foolish to not re-sign him.

    That leaves Odom wide open to sign with another team. And what better place then Cleveland, where with Wally’s $13 million and Snow’s $9 million coming off the books, there will be plenty of cap space. I wouldn’t be surprised if we even re-sign Wally, Andy, a draft pick, AND pick up a guy like Odom.

  • The Other Tim

    I knew as soon as the Celtics lost, we would lose too.

    More points in the first quarter than in the second half? Nice showing guys.

  • bridgecrosser

    If we are a “defense first” team? Where the heck was Ben Wallace in the 2nd half when Odom was running wild? Did I miss something? It’s usually a good idea to insert a 4-time defensive POY when an opponent is having an absurd time offensively.

    The Cavs were off and the Lakers were hot. Kudos to the Lakers. But I didn’t like the rest of the Lebronaires looking shaky in the 2nd half. But, I still have faith.

  • http://www.letsgolakers.com Omar

    I had doubts about this road trip. I expected my Lakers to have a 2-4 road trip to tell you the truth, but they proved me wrong. I still think Lakers vs Cavs final.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dennymayo IRB?

    JJ Hickson is not good at boxing out.

  • D-Train

    lamar odom is a sissy, just wait until the playoffs.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dennymayo IRB?

    @ D-Train: You mean when Bynum is back and Kobe doesn’t have the flu?

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com RockKing

    @Jacob: that’s not true. Even after Wally and E-Snow go off the books the Cavaliers will still have $72 million on the books. Even after AV opts out, that’s still $66 million, and the cap level will be $61 million tops (it was $58 million this year). They will be paying luxury tax next season and will only have the MLE at their disposal to sign anyone.

    Also, Turiaf isn’t on the Lakers anymore. He plays for Golden State now.

  • ryan

    im pissed

  • ryan

    we had a small and very weak @ss team up front…wallace was M.I.A….hickson is 14 yrs old…lebron couldnt buy a free throw or a shot for that matter…andy is doppy.

  • CJG

    No way to spin it, this is a disappointing loss. Something needs to change and pick up if we want a victorious Finals match up. A loss even when Kobe was sick….thats not good.

  • http://www.jrosen.wordpress.com Jacob Rosen

    Thanks for that RockKing. I must have gotten carried away with some old ideas..

  • JJ from Alaska

    I must say that this game was terrible. Who would have thought that no one on the Cavs could guard LAMAR ODOM. Well i will say that if Sasha wouldn’t have rolled his ankle, its possible Mike Brown would have trusted Sasha with Kobe and slide LeBron to play Odom. Having a healthy West would have helped. I need to state this now. Shawn Marion would put the Cavs over the top for matchups like these. I’m sorry it just has to be said, the dude is a freak of an athlete and can stick anyone he wants (when he’s not throwing one of his BFs….think the movie white chicks)

  • phil

    I’d just like to report how happy I am to see Cleveland sports fans talking about a finals in a major sport as if their team were a shoe-in. I can’t say I have seen or heard before. In the immediate wake of a dispiriting loss, I take heart in that and ask my fellow Cavs fans to take a philosophical step back and enjoy this moment. Even when the Tribe was beating the face in of virtually every AL team back in 95′, there was always the Yankees threat and the trial of a short series to dampen the collective mood into one of mere hopefulness. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though, shall we? Boston is hardly a pushover in the East.

  • phil

    Excuse the typos… my personal editor was off doing a close analysis of Laker defensive schemes in the event of an LA-CAVS NBA finals.

  • Lyon

    will someone please tell LBJ that he’s not a good 3 point shooter and should not be jacking them up all game.

    Phil Jackson clearly won the coaching matchup today. He had his players sag off LeBron, daring him to shoot jumpers. If other teams were smart, that is what will happen the rest of the year. Hopefully LBJ figures this out and attacks relentlessly capitalizing on his strengths, instead of playing into the opposition’s hands.