Cleveland Cavaliers (5-5) at Los Angeles Lakers (8-4)
7:30 PM PST, January 13, 2012
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Fox Sports West, NBA League Pass Channel 764
Radio: 710 AM (English), 1330 AM (Spanish)
Cavaliers Projected Starting Line-Up:
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Anthony Parker
SF: Omri Casspi
PF: Antawn Jamison
C: Anderson Varejao
Key Reserves: G Daniel Gibson, F Alonso Gee, G Ramon Sessions
The Lakers are back home tonight to oppose the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are in the penultimate game of a seven-game road trip. The Lakers come off of a victory against the Jazz on Wednesday night, while the Cavaliers come off of a victory over the Phoenix Suns Thursday evening.
Frontcourt: The Cavs are led by Antawn Jamison, who seemingly still has much game left in him. Jamison is the team’s leading scorer with 17.3 points per game. He is partnered with Omri Casspi and Anderson Varejao. Varejao is the veteran of the team, and yet is still getting better by the season. This season he is averaging just shy of a double-double with 9.4 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, Casspi is in his first season with the Cavaliers, and is still learning. His numbers have suffered in every area. Thus, he is a great candidate to break out at any given moment.
Coming off the bench for the Cavaliers are Tristan Thompson, Alonzo Gee, and Semeh Erden. Thompson is averaging 7.9 points per game in his rookie season out of Texas. He also contributes 4.6 rebounds per game. Thompson is likely to continue to see more time as he continues to develop. Gee has been on three different teams, whether it be with the NBA or down in the NBDL. He seems to have found his spot on the Cleveland bench, where he is scoring 8.3 points in 26.7 minutes per game. Lastly, there is Erden, who with some game-time tonight will match the number of games he played in last season. Erden is used for fouling purposes, and serves little to no offensive threat.
Backcourt: The Cavaliers lucked out when they received the rights to the first overall draft pick in this past June’s draft. They used that pick on Kyrie Irving, who now leads the point. Irving has now scored 20 points in each of Cleveland’s last three contests. This month he is shooting 48 percent and averaging 16.7 points per game. Irving is coupled with veteran shooting guard Anthony Parker, who’s production is waning down. While Kyrie may be hot, Parker is certainly not. He is shooting 39 percent in the month of January.
The product off of the bench is a good one. First is Ramon Sessions, then comes Daniel Gibson. Sessions will score at will, while Gibson is a three-point sharpshooter; converting at a 51 percent rate. The duo combines for 18.2 points per game; enough to spell the rookie Irving, or the slumping Parker should the team be falling behind.
- The Lakers lead the overall series against the Cavaliers by a margin of 58-41.
- Lakers coach Mike Brown spent five seasons in Cleveland as coach of the Cavaliers; leading the team to a 272-138 (.663) record including an NBA Finals berth in 2007.
- Kobe is coming off of back-to-back 40 point games, and six straight games where he has scored at least 20. To keep those streaks going, Bryant will have to score against a team he has struggled to score against. His lowest scoring average of 22.3 points per game comes against the Cavaliers.
Keys to a Laker Victory:
– Give it to Kobe
Ride him while he is hot. It must continue to be the way things are done. Critics are starting to talk about the Lakers and championships again thanks to Kobe’s resurrection. A tandem of Irving and Parker are not good enough to stop number 24. Kobe’s scoring average against Cleveland was low mainly because of one LeBron James, who no longer is employed there. Thus, give it to Kobe, and do it often.
– Limit the Turnovers
Mistakes are leading to opportunities for opposing teams. Fewer turnovers allows for the floodgates to open, and the bench to be emptied.
–Avenge Last Season’s Embarrassing Defeat
The Lakers went 16-1 last season after suffering an embarrassing loss to the team with the worst record in the league, the Cavaliers. A wake up call loss will do nothing but sink all of the momentum the team has built early on this season.
Prediction: Lakers 93, Cavaliers 81