Coming off plenty of rest — especially for the big three (we’ll get to this later) — the Cleveland Cavaliers face an inexperienced, yet talented Lakers team that is trying to navigate a post-Kobe world. The currently 10-18 Lakers will be coming off a back-to-back with the Philadelphia 76ers, a matchup between the first and second place lottery finishers. This will presumably be an easy, get-back-on-track win for the Cavs, but this an LA team that’s showing a bit more progression from their young players than most people anticipated, which makes this game, at the very least, fun to watch.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. L.A. Lakers
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena
TV Info: Fox Sports Ohio
Enemy Blog: Silver Screen & Roll
Music: Iman / Swaggy rap battle, obviously
-Speaking of Nick Young and Iman Shumpert, both have been pretty solid so far this season. Young, who’s playing his way back into shape after a November injury, is shooting 38.8 percent from three — his highest rate since the 2009-10 season — with an effective field goal percentage of 56.5 percent, the highest of his career, all while contributing 13.2 points per game, up from his 7.3 average last year. Iman is finally looking like the shooter the Cavs need him to be — a low usage player that can knock it down when the big three draw doubles. At 45.3 percent on a per game basis — compared to his 29.5 percent mark last year — it looks like he might be able to absorb more minutes in the playoffs, when the rotation gets smaller, especially if the Cavs choose not to go after a back up point guard.
-I’ve shot the idea to my friends that I think that the Cavs should give LeBron a week off halfway in-between the start of the season and the all-star break and then again halfway between the all-star break and the playoffs. As a Cavs fan, with them playing the weaker conference and off to a fast start, the simple equation is “Does X make their chance of beating the Warriors greater, less, or unchanged,” when making decisions. With a 31-year-old superstar and two injury-prone side kicks, this was clearly the smart decision. I’d imagine you already realize this, but the backlash was kind of ridiculous / still expected because the Internet exists. In the position the Cavs are in, they’re obviously thinking big picture, so if the league wants to eliminate these sort of decisions, then it needs to figure out how to schedule better. Plus, games like that give young players like Liggins the green light to let shots fly that he would only take in garbage time. It’s healthy for the whole team, really. If you’re a Cavs fan and you find yourself shouting about integrity or whatever, you probably have a Heat #6 jersey hidden in your closet, and, if you bought a ticket to the game in Memphis, I feel for you, but you probably should have seen it coming — it’s kind of like buying tickets to the Rolling Stones and getting mad because they don’t sound quite like they did on Sticky Fingers anymore. Anyway, I’d imagine the big three plan to put on a show.
-The Cavs are looking to be on point for the Christmas Day finals rematch and for their back-to-back against the Bucks before that, so we might see some telling basketball over the next few weeks. Personally, I’m keeping my eye on JR and Iman, because I still think they’re the key to unlocking the full potential of the team, as well as the incredible balancing act the big three has finally figured out, equalizing their usage rates and showing the best chemistry they’re had in their time together so far. Even after that small losing streak, there’s a lot of optimism surrounding the Cavs, but let’s see what January brings.
Fear The Sword’s Fearless Predication: Cavs 115, Lakers 99.