Remember when the Cleveland Cavaliers lost by 44 points to the Sacramento Kings? Me neither. That game is in the past and the team is probably trying to move on. A good way to move on from that disastrous performance would be with a road win against the Lakers. These aren't your very slightly older brother's Lakers, but they're still the Lakers. That means guys are excited to play in Los Angeles and try to take down one of the league's premier franchises. Will the Cavs be focused and put forth enough effort to improve to 2-1 on the road trip? We shall see, shan't we?
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (13-24) at Los Angeles Lakers (14-23)
When? 10:30 PM Eastern
Where? Staples Center -- Los Angeles, CA
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio / NBA League Pass
Here's a stat that might surprise you, but probably won't:
The Cavs are bad on the road. We know this from their 3-16 road record. But do know just how bad they are on the road? Well you're about to find out (in case that game against the Kings didn't already tell you)! At home, Cleveland has a defensive rating of 98.2 points per 100 possessions. If the Cavs only played home games, they would be tied for 3rd best in the league with the Oklahoma City Thunder. When they're on the road, however, they have a defensive rating of 108.2. If the Cavs only played road games, they would be ranked dead last by like, a lot. Need I say more?
Who do the Lakers even have on this team?
I don't really know. They have Nick Young aka Swagy P. That's pretty fun and he leads the league in scoring off the bench. There's at least a decent chance that this game devolves into a shootout between Swagy P and Dion Waiters, which would be fun. They also have Pau Gasol, the guy that the Cavs almost traded for. But he's battling various injuries and is listed as a game time decision. With Kobe Bryant still out with a knee injury and Dwight Howard in Houston, Gasol is the Lakers' best player. It doesn't take a genius to realize that the Cavs have a better chance of getting this road win if Gasol is sitting on the sidelines in street clothes. If Gasol does play, fans will be treated to a matchup between two of the better passing big men in the league. Anderson Varejao and Gasol both excel at finding open teammates despite being giants.
Sidenote: Luol Deng has been developing some nice chemistry with Anderson Varejao since coming over from the Chicago Bulls. Look for Deng to score a few times when Varejao hits him with a pass on a strong cut to the basket.
Apparently that's what we're calling the Kendall Marshall phenomenon this season. Marshall was a lottery pick by the Phoenix Suns just one year ago and, after bouncing around in the D-League, has reemerged as the starting point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. Since joining the Lakers, he's averaging 13.1 points per game with 9.7 assists. He's scoring relatively efficiently too! I have no idea if Marshall is actually a good point guard, but Mike D'Antoni has a way of helping any point guard with reasonable amounts of talent look good in his system. I do know one thing for sure: Kendall Marshall absolutely cannot guard Kyrie Irving. I have seen Kendall Marshall move laterally and it just doesn't work. At the draft combine, they measured his lateral agility test with a sundial. Remember how much Dion Waiters struggled at Summer League before his rookie season? Well the one time when Waiters looked really great in Las Vegas was when Marshall was "guarding" him. I don't know what switch the Lakers will do, but they can't possible leave Marshall on an island against Kyrie. It will be ugly.
**Visual approximation of Kendall Marshall guarding Kyrie Irving**
This will be Deng's third game in Wine and Gold and WHY HASN'T HIS PROFESSIONALISM RUBBED OFF ON THIS TEAM YET?
I supported the move to acquire Deng at the time and two games hasn't changed my opinion, obviously. He's a good player and will start to take on a bigger role on both offense and defense as he becomes more accustomed to his new teammates and Mike Brown's system.
Will the Cavs have a different response to their horrible blowout loss due to Deng's veteran presence? I have no idea. But if they respond with a nice win, feel free to credit Deng.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction:
I think the Cavs win this game. I know it's stupid to pick the Cavs on the road, but it's also stupid to pick the Lakers, ya know? Cavs win 102-97.
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