LeBron James will make his lone appearance in Cleveland on Wednesday night as the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Cleveland Cavaliers. With Tristan Thompson as the only active member of the 2016 title team left, this will surely feel weird.
Who: Los Angeles Lakers (9-7) at Cleveland Cavaliers (2-13)
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena — Cleveland, Ohio
Where on my eyeballs: ESPN
Lakers injuries: Rajon Rondo (Hand - Out)
Cavs injuries: Kevin Love (Foot - Out), George Hill (Shoulder - Out), Sam Dekker (Ankle - Out), J.R. Smith (
Courtside with Rich Paul Not with team/ excused absence- Out)
On a night that will serve as a reminder of how far removed from contending the Cavs are, they do have one positive as Collin Sexton is projected to be active and start Wednesday night. Sexton hurt his hip early in the game against Detroit Monday night and was considered questionable coming in.
While the actual game will likely not be compelling, the story will be the reception of LeBron in his return. Given how poorly the crowd reacted in 2010, the contrast in experiences or any fans determined to present themselves poorly will be thrown under the microscope.
Keys to the game:
Win the point guard matchup. If the Cavs are going to have any hope of being competitive in this game, Sexton will need to win his matchup against Lonzo Ball. Ball has struggled lately averaging 5.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game over his last eight games. He has done this while shooting 28.6 percent from the floor and 25.8 percent from deep.
Despite his struggles, he is a streaky shooter that can occasionally put together a good night. Sexton will need to make sure he limits Ball early, as the team has limited options at point guard should Ball’s play fall apart.
Win the possession battle. With the Lakers’ weakness on the glass and strength in transition, the Cavs will need to manage being aggressive on the boards while not exposing themselves to leak-out opportunities. The Cavs starting David Nwaba over Larry Nance Jr. will hurt the Cavs ability to out-rebound LA, but both he and Thompson will likely share some minutes as well. However in their minutes with only one center on the floor, both Thompson and Nance will need to have strong outings on the glass.
The Lakers proficiency in the open floor also means that the Cavs will need to limit turnovers, or at the very least not turn the ball over directly into the hands of a Lakers defender.
Hope that LeBron gets emotional. Over the past few years we’ve seen LeBron not exactly play his best when the Cavs traveled to Miami. While the Cavs aren’t as good as those Heat teams, these Lakers aren’t as good as the Cavs teams of the last five years at the moment. The only person capable of stopping LeBron James that will be present at Quicken Loans Arena is LeBron James. If he is going through the motions and decides to spare the Cavs, that’s their only real shot at playing spoiler.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction:
I think we see LeBron completely control the game with his passing and actively trying to disrupt the Cavs with his defense. While he rarely gives consistent effort on defense in the regular season, he will likely be able to read the Cavs telegraphed plays and jump passing lanes leading to transition opportunities. Feels like a 25 and 15 night for LeBron as the Cavs lose 125-107.