Fresh off a 20-point win against the Sacramento Kings, the Cleveland Cavaliers are set to face the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers' lone game in Cleveland - which is also the Cavs' last game before the All-Star break - this season is the last time Kobe Bryant will play in Cleveland as an active NBA player.
When: Feb. 10, 7 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, Ohio
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
Enemy Blog: Silver Screen and Roll
Music: No More Parties in L.A. - Kanye West featuring Kendrick Lamar
Keys to the game
- This will be the second to last time LeBron James and Kobe Bryant square off, as the two teams will play in Los Angeles on March 10. While their peaks didn't cross exactly, these are two of the league's defining players of the past 15 years. It's the one Finals matchup that didn't happen in recent years that really stands out as a 'what if' game. For more on that relationship, ESPN's Dave McMenamin wrote a cool story about why LeBron is looking forward to matching up with Bryant.
- Kobe, of course, is on his own personal retirement tour and it'll be interesting to see how the Q's crowd reacts to Bryant. He isn't a villain in Cleveland like he is in a city like Boston and he's received cheers everywhere since he's been since officially announcing his retirement.
- Remember when Lakers head coach Bryon Scott coached the Cavs? Man, those were not good times. The only players remaining from the 2012-13 season, which was Scott's last year in Cleveland: Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao.
Future Lakers coachLuke Walton, C.J. Miles and Shaun Livingston were some of the other characters on that team.
- The most interesting player to watch, aside from Bryant, is rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell. This is partly because how he's played doesn't really mesh with how Scott coaches him, but his indisputably talented. Russell, in another situation, might be doing a lot better and shining on a big stage.
- Even with his odd situation - having Scott as your rookie year coach during Bryant's last season isn't a great combination - Russell does a lot of good things on the court. Most interesting, as profiled here by Silver Screen and Roll's Drew Garrison, he's a skilled inside scorer. He's shooting above 60 percent at the rim and uses his size well inside while going for layups and floaters.
- Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson are also pretty good young players and Randle especially has a chance to do some damage against the Cavs. He's really active, can handle the ball a bit and is good in space. When he shares the floor with Roy Hibbert - which is Los Angeles' most common frontcourt pairing - the Cavs would be smart to have Tristan Thompson guard Randle and have Kevin Love defend Hibbert. If/when Randle guards Love, however, the Cavs need to try to exploit that matchup over and over.
- Larry Nance Jr., son of former Cavs star Larry Nance, is another young standout in Los Angeles. The Lakers still need a lot more to get better, but what they have now - Russell, Clarkson, Randle and Nance Jr. - isn't a bad start.
- As for the Cavs, Matthew Dellavedova will again sit out with a hamstring injury. Everyone else should be good to go. One rotation thing to watch will be how many minutes Varejao will see. He's played well in recent games and Timofey Mozgov hasn't.
- This is also the Cavs' last game before the All-Star break. Everyone not named LeBron will get a full week of rest before playing the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 18. It helps, too, that this game could be one where the Cavs get a slightly longer rest headed into the break if the Cavs get a big lead early. Which, to be frank, is totally on the table.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction
It's the Lakers. The Cavs should, and will, roll here. Cavs 105, Lakers 92.