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

The King makes his only return to Cleveland this season, playoffs included.

NBA: NOV 06 Cavaliers at Lakers Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tonight the Cleveland Cavaliers (15-9) play host LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers (10-12).

Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (15-9) vs Los Angeles Lakers (10-12)

Where: Cleveland, OH - Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

When: 7:30 p.m. EST


Opposing blog: Silver Screen and Roll

Cleveland’s expected starting lineup: Darius Garland / Donovan Mitchell / Lamar Stevens / Evan Mobley / Jarrett Allen

Cavaliers injury report: Jarrett Allen (QUESTIONABLE - back), Isaiah Mobley (OUT - G League), Ricky Rubio (OUT - ACL), Dean Wade (OUT - shoulder), Dylan Windler (OUT - ankle)

Los Angeles’ expected starting lineup: Dennis Schroeder / Patrick Beverley / Lonnie Walker / LeBron James / Anthony Davis

Lakers injury report: Max Christie (OUT - G League), Anthony Davis (PROBABLE - back), Wenyen Gabriel (OUT - shoulder), LeBron James (PROBABLE - ankle), Scotty Pippen Jr. (OUT - G League), Cole Swider (OUT - G League)

What to watch for

Beating the Brow

Lakers star Anthony Davis has been on a tear as of late. In a statement win over the Milwaukee Bucks, Davis had 44 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks. In another win over Washington Wizards, Davis had 55 points, 17 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 blocks. Will Davis go for three games in a row for this hot streak? Or will the Cavaliers be able to slow him down?

Well, it all depends on whether or not Jarrett Allen will be good to tonight for Cleveland. As it stands right now, Allen remains a game-time decision. If Allen doesn’t go, then defending Davis will fall squarely on the shoulders of Evan Mobley. Sure, Mobley will be able to hold his own against Davis on some possessions but he likely won’t be able to contain him every time down the court. But, considering Davis dropped 44 and 10 on Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez, Mobley is going to need a little help.

That’s why Allen’s availability is the x-factor tonight for the Cavaliers. If Allen is able to go, then Cleveland will have a better time defending the red-hot Davis. But, if he’s unable to go, get ready to watch head coach J.B. Bickerstaff look continuously frustrated on national television.

Containing the King

No matter how much J.B. Bickerstaff and his team try to ignore attention in regard to tonight’s opponent, the Cavaliers will be facing two threats: the Lakers and LeBron James. For those who may not know, the Cavaliers' history, especially as of late, is operating in tandem with James since, ya know, he was the reason why Cleveland won a championship in 2016.

With that said, when James is wearing an opponent’s uniform, he has the propensity to remind the Cavaliers and their fans how significant he truly is. For his career, James is averaging 29.4 points, 7.3 assists and 7.1 rebounds in 19 games versus Cleveland. The last time the Cavaliers saw James, he more or less had those numbers with 27 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in a 114-100 loss a month ago today.

If you’re Cleveland, you hope James isn’t feeling like the Man in the Arena and rather at a loss for words (or points) like his Instagram captions always say. Nevertheless, wing defense is a point of weakness for the Cavaliers ever since James left town for Hollywood and it’ll be a pressure point the Lakers try to exploit. Trying to slow down James, along with Davis, is going to clearly be key for Cleveland to win tonight on TNT.

Kevin Love shared that shootaround that he and his teammates cannot get “caught up in all the bullshit” that comes with James and the Lakers coming to town. Hopefully, that’s the mindset the Cavaliers carry into tonight’s tilt.

Performing on a national stage

Tonight, the Cavaliers will be on national broadcasts outside of NBA TV for the second time this season. Their first appearance came on ESPN when they defeated the Boston Celtics 114-113 in overtime at home. This game against Los Angeles will be Cleveland’s first appearance on TNT this season.

The Lakers, meanwhile, will be making their seventh appearance on national television outside of NBA TV. Understandable since, ya know, it’s LeBron James and the freakin’ Los Angeles Lakers. Regardless, the Lakers have underperformed on a bigger platform - going 1-5 up to this point and 0-3 overall on TNT.

It probably means nothing but, hey, maybe it’s insight to how Cleveland stays undefeated on national television?