The Cleveland Cavaliers will look to push their win streak to eight games as they take on LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (7-1) at Los Angeles Lakers (2-6)
Where: Los Angeles, CA - Crypto.com Arena
When: 3:30 p.m. EST
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports+, NBA League Pass
Opposing blog: Silver Screen and Roll
Cavs’ expected starting lineup: Darius Garland / Donovan Mitchell / Caris LeVert / Evan Mobley / Jarrett Allen
Cavs’ injury report: Darius Garland (QUESTIONABLE - knee), Donovan Mitchell (QUESTIONABLE - ankle), Ricky Rubio (OUT - ACL), Isaiah Mobley (OUT - G League Assignment), Dylan Windler (OUT - right ankle)
Lakers’ expected starting lineup: Lonnie Walker / Patrick Beverley / Troy Brown / LeBron James / Anthony Davis
Lakers’ injury report: Thomas Bryant (OUT - thumb), Anthony Davis (QUESTIONABLE -back), LeBron James (PROBABLE - foot), Wenyan Gabriel (PROBABLE - illness), Dennis Schroder (OUT - thumb), Cole Swider (OUT - foot), Scottie Pippen Jr. (OUT - G League Assignment)
What to watch for
Father Time vs. LeBron James. The Nike ads are funny, but they do ring true right now. Father Time, and the poor roster construction in LA, have made LeBron look more mortal than ever.
James is still putting up counting stats like we’ve come to expect as he’s averaging 24 points, 7.3 boards and 9.1 assists, but he’s not doing it in ways we’re used to. He’s currently shooting 43.1% from the floor, 20.7% from deep and 73.2% from the line. To put that in perspective, Russell Westbrook is currently shooting a higher percentage from three and the free-throw line.
LeBron’s ability to finish at the rim and get to the line is one of the main reasons why his shooting percentage has been so low. He’s finishing just 66.2% of his looks at the rim which is his lowest percentage since his rookie season and is drawing shooting fouls on a career low 11.4% of his shot attempts leading to just 5.1 free-throws per game.
That said, LeBron has always saved his best for his former and home-town team. In his career James is 17-1 against the Cavs while averaging 29.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.4 assists per contest. He put on a show last March despite a crippled Lakers’ roster as he put up 38 points, 10 boards and 12 assists in the win.
Moving past James’s significance to the organization both on and off the floor is something that the Cavs have struggled with the past 20 years. This is however a new Cavalier era and a new team that has looked like contenders through eight games. We’ll see if this group can survive LeBron’s best punch and play how we’ve come to expect this season.
Kevin Love charges. Love has been on a mission to draw charges since last December. Love has a league leading 8 charges drawn already and is averaging 1.82 charges per 36 minutes. This has proven to be something Love is absolutely committed to.
Last season Love tried to draw a charge on his friend and it didn’t go so well for him.
We know Love is going to try and get his revenge tonight. We’ll see if this ends up in an offensive foul or another embarrassing poster like it did last time.
Lakers’ offense vs. Cavs’ defense. LA’s offense is what has really held them back so far this season as they have the 29th ranked offense with a 103.9 offensive rating. This also isn’t a case of the offense being dragged down when James sits as they have a 104.4 offensive rating with him on.
The Lakers’ shot profile is interesting. They’re taking a league leading 42.7% of their shots at the rim and converting on 65.8% of those shots which is good for 12th best in the league. This is something that would generally indicate a functional offense that is prioritizing getting to the basket. The problem is, they can’t hit any other type of shot. They are last in short mid range shooting percentage, 26th in long mid range shots, last in corner threes and last in all three point shooting (28.6%).
This type of offense plays right into the Cavs’ hands. After Friday’s win, the Cavs have the second best defense in the league with a 104.9 defensive rating. Cleveland has done this by limiting three-point attempts (allowing just 31.1 opponent threes per game) and funneling them inside the arc while trying to bait them into midrange shots or looks at the rim. Opponents are attempting 32.5% of their shots in the midrange and are connecting on just 36.6% of those shots.
Trying to score at the rim against Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, who’s fresh off of a 7 block performance against the Detroit Pistons, isn’t what you want to do if you’re a team who’s struggling with their outside and midrange shot this much.