The stage is set for a classic as the Cleveland Cavaliers look to defend their home floor against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Where: Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse - Cleveland, Ohio
When: 7:30 p.m. EST
TV: Bally Sports Ohio
Expected Cavs Starting Lineup:
Darius Garland, Max Strus, Dean Wade, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen
Cavs Injury Report: Ricky Rubio (Personal, OUT), Ty Jerome (ankle, OUT), Isaac Okoro (knee, OUT), Isaiah Mobley (G League, OUT)
Expected Lakers Starting Lineup:
Lakers Injury Report:
Cavs back in full force?
Injuries are a sports fan's worst nightmare. For fans of the Cavaliers, this has been a frightful start to the season.
Cleveland’s core has been plagued with setbacks. The starting unit of Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen have played just 60 minutes together — ranking 45th in the league.
But on Saturday, it is possible the full lineup will be available. Mitchell practiced for the first time since his injury. As did Okoro, who has been on the sideline since Nov. 3 with knee soreness. Okoro was firmly asserting himself as one of Cleveland’s most impactful bench players before his injury.
There is no guarantee that either player will be available — or that another Cavalier won’t join the injury list. Fans can only hope that this is a step in the right direction for a Cavs team that still feels like it’s waiting to sprint out of the gates.
Craigsanity (Craig Porter Jr.)
It has not been all joy and sunshine for the Cavs this season. But if you are a resident of Craig Porter Island, the weather could not be better.
The undrafted rookie has turned heads recently with his sturdy two-way play. His 21 points over the defending champs were enough for him to earn a spot on the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Ladder (10th place).
The best part? There is no reason to think Craig’s game is a “fluke.” He isn’t simply riding a hot streak from deep, although he is shooting a scorching 57% over his last four games, Porter’s attempts have been quality looks inside the three-point line.
Porter’s impact comes from his impeccable feel for the game. It only takes one-quarter of watching CPJ to realize he is in complete control. He’s a deliberate playmaker and serviceable defender. These are intangible things that make Porter a reliable all-around prospect.
If the Cavs are at full strength tomorrow, we will likely see less CPJ. Nonetheless, J.B. Bickerstaff has confirmed Porter will have an opportunity to be a mainstay in the rotation.
LeBron James is still LeBron James
Father time is undefeated, right? Right...?
LeBron might be the oldest player in the NBA but that has not stopped him from dominating on a nightly basis. No one is more familiar with the King than Cleveland — but slowing down the L-Train hasn’t gotten any easier.
In his 21st NBA season, James is averaging 25.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 6.7 assists. He continues to evolve, shooting a career-high 41.4% from downtown. Again, this is his 21st NBA season and he is still setting new career highs.
Things have changed since LeBron last left Cleveland, though. The Cavaliers swept LA 2-0 in last season’s series, something they have never done to a LeBron-led team. They will certainly look to extend that streak on Saturday as there will be no love lost for their old friend.