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Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Game preview and how to watch

Cavs look to bounce back after beat down in Boston

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers (8-8) host the Los Angeles Lakers (13-4) this evening in a match-up that is sure to entertain. We thought the ‘Are the Cavs good?’ question was buried forever in Cleveland on Friday when they shocked the NBA and blitzed the offensively-stacked Nets team for a second time. But then the Sunday Scaries happened — and boy, it sure got beastly in Beantown. Despite their uncharacteristic performance against the Celtics, the Cavs have proven they have the energy and will to ride with just about anyone on the court. Tonight, we’ll see how the Cavs respond to their dreadful loss in Boston. They will have to bring it early, and bring it often to crack the defending champs who rank 1st in the league in defense.

How to watch:

Tip-off is at 8 p.m. on Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Go, and NBA League Pass.

Projected starters:

Cavs’ Coach J.B. Bickerstaff suddenly has multiple weapons at his disposal. Tonight, we hope to see Collin Sexton and Darius Garland reunited as the Cavs’ starting backcourt along with Okoro, Nance and Drummond. The Cavs will need their defense locked in tonight, more so than usual. Okoro will be fixated on stopping the L-train, if he suits up (currently listed as questionable/ankle). The big test will sit with Andre Drummond guarding AD, who scorched the Bulls on Saturday putting up 37 points in 28 minutes.

Cavs: Collin Sexton / Darius Garland / Isaac Okoro / Larry Nance Jr. / Andre Drummond

Lakers: Dennis Schroder / Kentavious Caldwell-Pope / LeBron James / Anthony Davis / Marc Gasol

Things to watch for:

Sexton’s Stat Line: Someone might want to change out the C,M,Y AND K cartridges in the stat machine. It’s been out of ink since Sexton rejoined the Cavs last week. According to Cavs Notes, Sexton is one of only TWO players in the NBA averaging at least 25 points per game while shooting 50% from the field and 45% from three. The other player? Kevin Durant.

On Sunday, Sexton became the fifth-quickest Cavalier to reach 3,000 career points despite being yanked early in the blow-out loss. We expect Collin to continue his surge on the big stage, showing the world once again he’s no joke. Collin will have a tough match-up against Lakers’ guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who is shooting 54% from three.

Okoro the Fireman: You can trust that Cavs’ stand-out rook, Isaac Okoro has his mind focused on one thing tonight and that’s extinguishing the best player on the court. His hoses met Harden last week long before we saw smoke. Tonight we will see if Okoro can smother The King, who in his 18th year, is averaging 23.9 points and over seven assists per game.

Winning in the Paint: The Cavs struggled in the paint on Sunday and that just won’t bode well against the Lakers. The home team must rediscover their identity tonight and play with energy and poise around the rim. Andre Drummond struggled on Sunday with a ghastly 11 points and 5 rebounds. The Cavs will need offensive production and rebounding from its bigs tonight or things will get lopsided quickly.

Pine Trees: A dandy bit of sleight of hand from Cavs’ GM Koby Altman and the Cavs’ bench suddenly grew longer, deeper and younger last week. The Nets — at the forefront of the blockbuster trade — got hit with a bit of FRO-mo over the weekend as their former center flashed a few smiles while owning them inside the paint. Jarret Allen can come off the Cavs’ bench like he’s on a soul-crushing mission to Mars, soaring down the lane with unstoppable air and speed. On the defensive end of the floor, he can break your back late in the 3rd serving as an energy-fueled forcefield between anybody and the bucket. The Cavs will take the W if Allen continues to fly high around the uhhh, mature Lakers late in the game.

Robin Hood: Robin Hood became a popular folk hero NOT by stealing from the rich and giving to the poor...he simply returned what was already theirs. Larry Nance Jr., knows exactly who the basketball belongs to and, along with his sword, he’s brought his sticky gloves. Nance tweaked his wrist last night in Boston, but if healthy, he will look to run off with the extra possessions needed to feed the Cavs’ in transition. If successful, the Cavs might just steal the (Lake) Show.