Lakers vs. Cavaliers Game Preview: Lakers Look To End Seven Game Skid

Lakers vs. Cavaliers Game Preview: Lakers Look To End Seven Game Skid


blakenashSteve Blake and Steve Nash come back, and Jordan Hill and Jodie Meeks go down. The Lakers can’t catch a break and continue to deal with a thin bench. While not many people expected the Lakers to be very good this year even with a healthy roster, the Cleveland Cavaliers were expected to be a playoff team in a weak Eastern Conference. The Cavs’ season has gone about as bad as it possibly could have up to this point. With all-star point guard Kyrie Irving entering his third year as well as lottery picks Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson expected to continue their development, the Cavs were supposed to improve from a season ago. The losses have continued to mount up for them, not to mention the unsuccessful signing of Andrew Bynum and the historically bad start for last year’s number one overall pick Anthony Bennett. Let’s see how the Lakers match up with them.

Frontcourt: Though power forward Tristan Thompson still was likely taken too high with the fourth overall pick back in 2011 (can’t say that for certain yet, since he is only 22 years old), he has developed into a solid player. He averages close to a double-double on the year with 11.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. He is strong in the paint, and can hurt the Lakers on the offensive glass if they do not put a body on him. While he strangely changed his shooting hand from left to right in the off-season, he has shown an improved touch on his shot from the outside. Keeping he and starting center Anderson Varejao off the offensive boards is a key to victory for the Lakers in tonight’s game.

The recently acquired Luol Deng starts at the three for Cleveland. Deng, a two-time all-star with the Chicago Bulls, is as steady as ever and is averaging 18 points and 6.3 rebounds per game on the season for both the Cavs and Bulls. Deng is unquestionably a top ten small forward in the league, and will likely be a Laker free agent target this coming summer. He remains one of the best wing defenders in the league and is a very good midrange shooter. While the acquisition of Deng was supposed to put Cleveland in the playoff picture, the team has continued to sputter despite his valuable contributions.

Backcourt: The Cavs go as their franchise point guard, Kyrie Irving, aka Uncle Drew, takes them. Irving was voted in as an all-star starter despite the team’s poor record. The former first overall pick has one of the best handles in the league and can work his way to the basket in almost any situation. He is equally effective from outside, though his shooting percentages are down across the board this year. Irving is a shoot-first point guard who has drawn some criticism this season for not getting his teammates involved, but it must be remembered that he’s only 21 years of age and playing within the confines of Mike Brown’s offense. Irving is a capable passer and comes in averaging 6.2 assists a night to go with his 21.7 points. This is a tough matchup for whichever Laker point guard draws the majority of the minutes tonight.

It has been somewhat of a revolving door for the Cavs as to who starts at the other guard spot. Most recently, Jarret Jack, who is a point guard, has started alongside Irving. Jack has had a disappointing season after having an outstanding regular season and postseason for the Golden State Warriors last year. Jack is only averaging nine points per game on 40% shooting, his lowest average in the last five seasons. Dion Waiters is a player the Lakers must be aware of at all times when he comes in off the bench. Though he appears to be in coach Mike Brown’s doghouse at the moment (only played 11 minutes last game), Waiters has Jamal Crawford type ability to put up buckets in a hurry off the bench. He averages 14.1 points per game in only 28 minutes.

Keys to Lakers Victory: 
Defensive Glass: With Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill out, the Lakers, already a poor rebounding team, could be in for a struggle on the backboards with a Cavs team that ranks twelfth in the NBA in rebounds per game.  Varejao and Thompson, as discussed earlier, are both very active, particularly on the offensive end. The Lakers cannot afford to lose the battle on the glass by a significant margin or they will likely be playing from behind all night.

Trap Kyrie: The Cavaliers offense has struggled most of the year. Their sets are predictable, and Coach Brown has not done a good job of utilizing his personnel on that end. However, in tight games down the stretch, Irving has shown the ability to take over a game and have huge fourth quarters. If it is a close game and Kyrie starts to catch fire, the Lakers should consider sending a double at him or trapping him off ball screens. The Cavs are not a great outside shooting team.

Fast Start: On the second night of a back-to-back, a slow start is always a concern for the Lakers. The Cavs are currently mired in a five-game losing streak and there have also been rumors floating around of Irving wanting out and Deng being unhappy since arriving. If the Lakers come out quickly, the Cavs could unravel and have a tough time getting back in the game.

Heading into tonight’s game, the Lakers are +6.5 against the Cavaliers via Sportsbook

Los Angeles Lakers (16-32) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (16-32)
4:00 PM PST, February 5, 2014
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
TV: TWC SportsNet
Radio: ESPN
Radio 710 ESPNLA

Cavaliers Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jarret Jack
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Tristan Thompson
C: Anderson Varejao

Key Reserves: SF Earl Clark, SG C.J. Miles, Dion Waiters

Lakers Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Steve Nash
SG: Steve Blake
SF: Wesley Johnson
PF: Ryan Kelly
C:  Robert Sacre

Chris Kaman Finally Getting Some Playing Time With Pau Gasol Out



    • OP_Albania

      yep, no doubt about it !!

  • Daryl Peek

    Kelly and Sacre need to step up on the boards. They were awful last night!

  • LG Fam

    Insider Brasi says Warriors are possible trade partner for the Lakers since they lost to Bobcats last night.Pau or Swaggy P and Steve Blake,might be moving on.

    Cavs know the Lakers are on their biggest losing streak in 7 years,Cavs got it.

    • Dragon7s

      Warriors need some depth at the guard positions so could see them interested in Nick and/or Blake.
      A Warriors front court of Pau and Bogut could really spread the floor on offense.

      GSW’s 1st round pick was sent to Utah so not sure the Lakers would be interested in making a trade.

  • LG Fam

    Lakers got some trades cooking up.Lets see what transpires this month.

  • LakersHeatBeef

    Lakers got both Steve’s back and lets see how it goes tonight.Are Meeks,Hill out?

    • Veix

      Meeks out for the rest of the road trip. Not sure about Hill.

      • LakersHeatBeef

        Ouch Meeks was doing very well lately.Thank you for the update.

      • Dragon7s

        Doesn’t look like Hill is going to be able to play either so expect lots of Wes at the 4 tonight.

        With the shortage of big men, maybe MDA goes with a 3 guard line-up…lol

  • LakersHeatBeef

    Some rumor mill stuff for those who like rumors,i heard Lakers want a top 10 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft for Pau Gasol so they can draft Dante Exum,basically Ausralian Superstar Dante Exum would force his way to LAL by telling other teams not to draft or else he will play overseas instead.Exum is rumored to want to be a Laker.He will have his agent tell all the teams drafting he wants to be only a Laker nothing can persuade him to go elsewhere.

    Lakers will reportedly use their top 3 projected pick on Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid.They want 2 potential superstars out of this draft.Oh well lets see what happens,it’s still just BS talk.I was just letting you know what’s rumored for us.

    • Veix

      Do you know what Suns offered to Lakers for Pau? Was there a draft pick included?

      • Boobie Knight

        He doesn’t know anything, they’re rumors. Do you want me to make up stuff and post on the internet too?

        • Veix

          Just asking about what’s the word outside. Chill!

      • LakersHeatBeef

        According to LA Times Lakers Beat Writer via Twitter is this.

        Mike Bresnahan ‏@Mike_Bresnahan Feb 3
        Main reason Lakers + Suns haven’t agreed on Gasol trade: Lakers want better draft pick than Suns’ current position (17th overall).

        So very likely Suns offered exactly that and Lakers want a much higher pick to draft Dante Exum at number 10.He is rumored to be seeking Kobe for advice and Kobe forced his way to the Lakers many are saying Dante Exum will follow the Kobe to the Lakers path of force to LAL.Just a rumor right now though.

    • Level headedLevelLevel headed

      If we can get another top 10 pick for gasol then I all for it but its going to b a tall order to fill. The only teams in the top 10 with a chance to make the playoffs are the Denver nuggets and the Bobcats

      • LakersHeatBeef

        Exactly right.Tall order indeed.Only time will tell whether this is going to come true or not.I love the thought process of the Lakers FO regarding this NBA 2014 Draft.Many experts say best draft in many years maybe the best ever,oh wow.

    • Dragon7s

      Nice to hear about a young player that knows what he wants (esp. if it’s to be a Laker…lol) and that he’s willing to make whatever decisions are necessary to make it happen.
      On the other hand, I don’t see the Lakers being able to swing a deal for Pau to get another pick in the top 10.

      The trade deadline can’t get here quick enough!
      Hoping the Lakers’ FO can once again pull a rabbit out of their hat…lol

      • Jim213

        I’d try to reacquire the 2015 1st rounder that can be used before next seasons trade deadline to help bring an all star player ex. K Love.

  • Gregory Choa

    I was really kinda surprised/pleased with what I saw from Steve Nash last night…too bad it couldn’t translate to a win. With Pau and Hill out though, now it’s the frontcourt that’s being decimated…Lakers just cannot catch a break from the injury bug.

  • mike

    Kaman should start not Sacre

  • Mitch

    Mike D’Antoni is terrible at developing talent here is why i say this.He gets Jeremy Lin playing like a all time great then he quits on his Knicks and on the young man Lin after that Lin gets benched for a old man with creaky knees Baron Davis breaks Lin’s confidence never the same again.Now he has Kendall Marshall on the bench after he proved himself as a 12 points and 12 assists player as a starter.

    Those are the best assists numbers any Lakers guard has averaged since Magic Johnson.MDA is delusional and he is a lost cause and he has a horrible weak defensive scheme,awful coach he must be let go very soon.Oh yeah Jordan Hill is one of the best offensive rebounders the NBA has ever had,yet he hardly has a role of meaning on this crappy MDA run team.FIRE THAT CLOWN MDA!

  • Mitch

    No way in hell is Mike D’Antoni going to be around when we draft our 2014 player.

    • Sylvia Ross

      Mitch, I hope you’re right !