Well, if the Cavs did have this game circled, hopefully it was in pencil, because lately, the Lakers…how do I put this delicately? Well, I’ll defer to Patrick Beverley and Karl-Anthony Towns for this one.
But, as Cavs fans well know, you can never truly count the Lakers out when number 6 is around, even if his team looks bleak or destitute or pitiful or—…sorry, what were we talking about again?
Ah, right, Cavs and Lakers. Let’s give some credit to LA: they did win in Toronto on Friday. Bravo!
Erm, let’s get into tonight’s festivities.
HOW TO WATCH
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (41–30) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (30–41)
Where: Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse — Cleveland, Ohio
When: 7 p.m. EST
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports App, NBA League Pass
Spread: Cavs –6
Opposing blog: Silver Screen and Roll
Expected Cavs starting lineup: Darius Garland / Isaac Okoro / Lamar Stevens / Lauri Markkanen / Evan Mobley
Cavs injury report: Jarrett Allen (OUT - finger), Collin Sexton (OUT - knee),
Expected Lakers starting lineup: Russell Westbrook / Malik Monk / Stanley Johnson / Austin Reaves / LeBron James
Lakers injury report: Kendrick Nunn (OUT - knee), Anthony Davis (OUT - foot), Wayne Ellington (QUESTIONABLE - non-Covid illness)
Three things to watch
Homecoming King. As always, the story of the night is LeBron James’ return to Cleveland. Forget about rumors of a return for now, though—or at least don’t let them cloud the fact that LeBron always puts on a show for the hometown fans. In 17 career games as a visitor in Cleveland, James is averaging 33.4 points, 8.5 boards, and 7.5 assists per game, all better than his career averages. Last time he was here, he finished with a line of 46-8-5 in 38 minutes and buried the Cavs with 21 of the most insulting points you’ll ever see in the fourth quarter. Worry about his future later; he only comes to town once a year.
Make it quick and easy. The Lakers haven’t just been losing—they’ve been getting run out of the gym early. They’re last in the NBA in first-quarter scoring since the All-Star break, and in three losses last week to the Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors, and Minnesota Timberwolves, the Lakers finished the first frame down by an average(!) of 20 points(!!!); their smallest deficit was 14 against Minnesota.
The Cedi Osman experience. Cedi had something of an odd weekend. Cleveland’s floppiest forward received a DNP in Friday’s win over the Denver Nuggets; even Dylan Windler, who has spent time this season in the G-League, managed to get some run over Osman. The very next day, Osman poured in 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting, 5 boards, 2 assists, and just a single turnover and was the Cavs’ second-leading scorer. Osman has always been a bit, umm, wild, but this was a particularly jarring example. Which version of him the Cavs get tonight could turn the bench battle, for better or worse.