Archives For December 2007

Records: Lakers 19-10; Celtics 25-3
Offensive ratings: Lakers 107.4 (6th); Celtics 107.6 (5th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 102 (12th); Celtics 91.6 (1st)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum
Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkin

Lakers Notes: From Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune is the stat that tells you almost everything you need to know about the Lakers win Friday night — LA’s first 18 points came on lay-ups and dunks.

They attacked the heart of the (surprisingly soft) Utah defense. Eventually Kobe was draining three pointers over the top of the defense (and hitting them like they were lay-ups) but it was that initial attack inside that won the Lakers the game. Andrew Bynum rightfully gets a lot of credit for that attack inside.

But I think another part of the attacking style comes from starting Trevor Ariza the last couple games. He is a slasher who gets to the hole through some tight spaces (watch him go baseline after somebody runs at him on a corner three, he gets through seemingly impossible spaces). He also moves well without the ball, giving the Lakers another cutter in the triangle offense.

All that should be interesting tonight.

The Celtics Coming In: They come to this game on the second night of a back-to-back, their fourth game in five days and the last game of a West Coast road swing. Usually those are key ingredients for teams to have let downs, but the Celtics (with KG leading by example) just have not had that kind of let down this season.

While you knew the big three would be good — and they may be better than expected — one other guy that has been hot the last 10 games is PG Rajon Rondo. He’s shot 50.5% (eFG%) in the last 10, throwing in 5.4 assists per game. The Lakers cannot ignore him tonight.

Loving to Hate Bostonians? Are the Celtics and their fans becoming obnoxious now that they are winning again? Kings fans thing so, and even Boston fans are asking that of themselves.

I’m just enjoying the irony of a Lakers blog getting to talk about the arrogance of another team’s fans.

Last time these two met: The Lakers were just not prepared for the intensity of the Celtics defense when these two met the first time. For the game, the Lakers had an offensive rating of 101, well off their season average, and they shot 48% (eFG%), again down from what they are shooting for the season. The Celtics offense was slightly above its season numbers, but as it has been for the Celtics all season it is the defense that won the game.

Keys To The Game: The Lakers were able to get into the lane a couple nights ago against Utah, and if they can do that again tonight it will go a long time toward a win. With KG and Perkins, the Celtics run a virtual zone inside and both love to come from the weak side for the block — if the Lakers can keep up the interior passing we have seen of late they can make the Celtics pay for that weak-side attack.

What they can’t do is see that interior defense and go bombs away from three over the top of it.

Last meeting, Pierce and the other Celtics were able to penetrate at will, the Lakers need to stop that. Also, turnovers will kill the Lakers tonight as the Celtics will make them pay.

If you want another opinion, check out Don from With Malice’s take on the game.

Tonight’s Game: Where The NBA’s Best Rivalry Happens: The Lakers will be wearing the 87-88 throwbacks tonight, which is very appropriate. The Lakers are playing so much better than the last time these two met, this is a good measuring stick for just how well the Celtics are playing.

Where you can watch: Game time is 7 p.m. (Pacific). In Los Angeles you can watch the regular broadcast on Fox Sports or switch over to the “courtside view” showing on Fox Sports Prime Ticket. Remember the courtside view is the one without announces and shot as if you were sitting somewhere next to Nicholson. It’s a fun view.

Game Preview & Chat: The Utah Jazz

Kurt —  December 28, 2007

Records: Lakers 18-10; Jazz 16-14
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.3(7th); Jazz 112.0 (5th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.9 (11th); Jazz 107.6 (14th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum
Jazz: Deron Williams, Ronnie Brewer, AK47, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur

Lakers Notes:Quick injury update: No Luke, no Kwame tonight.

Inside Hoops has done an interesting Q&A with Andrew Bynum, which gives us some insight in to how he went from gangly 17-year-old to breakout player:

InsideHoops.com: How’s it going working with Lakers staff as they try to teach you new skills and help your development?

Andrew Bynum: Kareem has been the biggest help to me. We work out before practices, defensively, and offensive moves. And then my trainer, Sean Zarzana really changed things around for me. He got me in shape. Got my body right.

InsideHoops.com: And how did he do that? What kind of changes did he have you make?

Andrew Bynum: Running track. Hitting the weights. That’s pretty much it. Basketball stuff, I did with him and Gerald Wilkins.

InsideHoops.com: I remember when you were a rookie I asked if you were maybe going to try to learn Kareem’s sky-hook. Did that ever happen?

Andrew Bynum: Naw. I tried to pick it up, but still haven’t gotten it yet. We shoot it every day. I shoot it against Vlade [Vladimir Radmanovic, who is sitting next to Bynum during this interview] repeatedly. It looks good against Vlade. I got him scared.

The Jazz Coming In: Gordon Giricek should be back, but once again when the commentators talks about “the loose cannon” we don’t have to assume they mean Kobe.

The Jazz are 3-7 in their last 10, although you might not know it from the drubbing they gave Dallas a couple nights ago. Okur was back after missing some games with an injury and the Jazz starters had a 16-0 run to start the game and an 11-3 run early in the third quarter, and as you might guess that was enough for an easy win.

The Jazz starters have been playing well through the slump, if you look at the numbers, it’s the production from the bench that has been a big drop off. Millsap is the only guy giving them much in the last 10 games, although though against the Mavs a couple nights ago the Jazz I saw looked like the Jazz of last season. The only question is how much of that was because Dallas is slumping right now.

The Other Thing To Read Today I’m back at TrueHoop for one more day. Can one man bring down a vast media empire in one day? Stay tuned…..

Last time these two met The Lakers and Jazz have split their two meetings this season, and both times the losing team was on the second game of a back-to-back. Coincidence?

That last loss (Nov. 30) by the Lakers was particularly ugly. The Jazz were without Boozer and Okur but still outscored the Lakers in the paint, the Lakers had 20 turnovers, the Lakers let Deron Williams drop 35, Lamar Odom was MIA, and… I could go on for another 300 words. Let’s just try to put it behind us.

Keys To The Game: The Jazz are a disciplined team that runs a double high-post offense with a lot of cutters — that means the defense has to be disciplined too. Based on the last meeting, the Lakers need to do a much better job on AK47 and Williams, who did as they pleased then.

With Boozer and Kirilenko, the Jazz protect the paint well on defense, the Lakers need to get the ball into Bynum and use his passes out to shooters to open up that defense. Kove/Fisher/Ariza driving and kicking could do the same thing. This could be a night that Radmanovic and Sasha play key roles shooting over the top of the packed-in Jazz defense.

Where you can watch: Game time is 7:30 p.m. (Pacific). In Los Angeles tune Fox Sports, nationally you’ll need League Pass. Or just head on down to your local sports bar, which is my plan.

The Lakers are 18-10, one game back of the vaunted Phoenix Suns (who the Lakers just handled nicely, thank you very much). Andrew Bynum is having a breakout year, Derek Fisher (with Jordan Farmar behind him) have been a huge upgrade at point guard and Kobe is being Kobe.

Yet, last year the Lakers were 26-13 at one point, looked like a team on the rise, then a couple of injuries sent them spiraling downward. They finished with 42 wins, barely made the playoffs and were first-round fodder for the Suns. What makes this year any different?

Defense.

While we can talk about Bynum and other changes in the Lakers offense, they are playing no better on offense than last year compared to the rest of the league. And while offense can be streaky, defense never takes a night off.

Last year the Lakers had an offensive rating (points per 100 possessions used) of 110, which was seventh in the league. This year, that has jumped to 111.3 (so far), but that is still 7th in the NBA. Shooting the Lakers are almost identical to last year, shooting 51.1% (eFG%) last year and 51.2% this year, The only real difference this year is the Lakers are getting to the free throw line a little more.

But on defense, the Lakers are nearly 5 points per 100 possessions better. Last year the Lakers gave up 110.5 points per 100 possessions (24th in the NBA) and this year it is 105.9 (9th). Last year opposing teams shot 50%, this season it is down to 47.7%. The Lakers are also doing a little better on the defensive boards and fouling less.

There are a few factors at work here. Derek Fisher is not a great defender, but opposing point guards have a PER against him of 16.2 (slightly above average) compared to the 18 that Smush Parker allowed last year. (Think of it this way, 16.2 is about the equivalent of Devin Harris, 18 is about a Deron Williams of this season. Which do you want to face?) Throw in the good defense of Jordan Farmar off the bench and opposing PG’s have a PER against the Lakers of 15.2 this season (right at the league average) where last year it was a noticeably higher 17.

Another factor is the Lakers interior defense has improved. The energy of Ronny Turiaf, the maturity and improving defense of Andrew Bynum and the post defense of Kwame Brown (when healthy) have given the Lakers a boost in the defensive paint.

First and foremost that has forced other teams to shoot more from the outside — last season 37% of teams shots against the Lakers were close to the basket, this season that is down to 33%. That means more jump shots (which, obviously, are a lower percentage than stuff right around the hoop) but teams also are shooting a lower percentage on their jumpers — 44.8% last year down to 42.4% this year.

Finally, credit needs to go to the coaching staff, which clearly refocused on defense. The Lakers rotations are quicker, the team is playing the pick-and-roll better and there just seems to be more of a focus on the defensive end of the floor.

Things may even get better. The Lakers perimeter defense is improving with the arrival and increasing minutes of Trevor Ariza. Getting Kwame Brown back will give the Lakers another body inside.

The Lakers may or may not win 50 games, and the playoffs are a long way off. But when a team plays defense like this, you can start to dream a little.

True Hooping It Up

Kurt —  December 26, 2007

I’m the guest host over at True Hoop today while Henry goes on a four-day bender spends time with his family. I’ve already got a post up on Andrew Bynum’s coming out party.

No posts here today, we’ll have something tomorrow. No promises on quality, though.

Game Preview & Chat: The Phoenix Suns

Kurt —  December 25, 2007

Records: Lakers 17-10; Suns 0-0
Offensive ratings: Lakers 110.9 (8th); Suns 114.1 (2nd)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.5 (9th); Suns 107.8 (15th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladamir Radmanovic, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum
Suns: Steve Nash, Raja Bell, Grant Hill, Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire

Merry Christmas To All: We’re going to be a little short and sweet on the preview today because I want to spend time with my family. But I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas (or the holiday of your choosing, we don’t discriminate here, except against Celtics fans). And I want to thank all of you for making this such a fun and rich place to talk hoops.

Keys To The Game: The Lakers book on the Suns is pretty well known by now — pound the ball inside, hit the offensive glass hard, play deliberate (not slow) and make Nash beat you with his shot and not lobs to his athletic guys on the wing. Defend the myriad of pick-and-rolls the Suns run (especially when they run “drags” where the a big screens for Nash out high very early in the clock) with good play from the bigs and quick rotations. Contain Barbosa. Make the Suns jump shooters. The Lakers did almost that in the second game of the season and got a D’Antoni-angering win. Which was fun.

However, those things are pretty much the opposite of what we have seen from the Lakers lately. They have fallen in love with the three — in part because Kobe is injured and pulling up more, and in part because VladRad and Sasha and Farmar can hit it, so they take it a lot. As kwame a. pointed out in the comments yesterday, there are good threes and bad threes — perimeter pull-up threes are bad shots for the Lakers, particularly against the Suns. However, inside out spot up threes (because Bynum passed out of a double or Kobe did the drive and dish) provide much better looks.

I’ll let commenter 81 Witness fill in the rest:

Note to Bynum: Stay put, don’t chase the high screen and leave Amare open.

Note to Fisher and Farmar: Let Nash shoot those 20-22 footers behind screens. Much better than him beating you off the dribble and dishing to a wide open Amare or Matrix. (Editor’s note: One thing you have to do with Nash is mix up your pick and roll coverage, stay with one thing too long and he gets comfortable and starts picking you apart.)

Note to all the other Lakers: Worry about your own man and do not break down and give the help defense.

Note to the bench: You will win this game for the Lakers. You are much better than the Suns bench and do not lull yourself asleep like you did against NY.

Note to PJ: Do not let the Lakers fall in love with the 3. You saw what happened in Cleveland and (against the Knicks).

Where you can watch: Game time is 2 p.m. (Pacific) and we’ll all be watching it on ABC. What I want from ABC for Christmas is a couple of “Lost” promos.

20,000 Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  December 24, 2007

It’s really hard to get your head around what an accomplishment 20,000 points in a career is. Look at the list of players who have reached that mark —the list is just 30 players long — and it reads like a “who’s who” of the NBA’s greats. Kobe got there at a younger age than any of them (although Wilt did it faster, in 499 games to Kobe’s 811).

Of that group, just 16 did it with one team. I love the fact that Kobe did — not just because I’m a Kobe fan or a Lakers fan, but because I’m an NBA fan. I think it’s good for the league to have stars that don’t move around much, I think it helps build franchise loyalty and identity. I like that Magic was always a Laker, Bird always a Celtic. I’d like Kobe to always be a Laker, LeBron to stay in Cleveland (unless he wants to become a Laker), Wade to be with the Heat (ditto). I like that Garnett tried hard to make a go of it in Minnesota.

To have watched Kobe since he was a headstrong rookie willing to take big shots in the playoffs, seen him grow into an NBA great, to watch his championships and off-the-court struggles, that makes me appreciate him a little better as a person, and a player. I have more of an emotional investment in him and the team, and while I know this is a business, at some level it’s about the customers (fans) and giving them something worth spending money on. Kobe does that. And it’s been great to watch him score 20,000 points.

———————

• The Bulls just fired Scott Skiles. I’m curious who they bring in and what direction they try to take this team now. Should be interesting.

• As for the Knicks game….

Don’t question too much a win on the road in the last game of a road trip. Getting those wins are the signs of a solid team.

• The Lakers looked great early — well, technically I think the Knicks looked horrible and the Lakers looked good — and then I think their energy lapsed. Say what you will about the Knicks, they bring guys like David Lee and Nate Robinson off the bench who are pure energy guys, and that can keep a team in a game. The Lakers got caught mentally ending the road trip a little early, but they hung on for the win and I’m not going to look much past that right now.

• Looking at the stats is a little odd, just because it was a tale of two halves, but the Lakers ended up getting good shooting nights from Kobe (62.7% true shooting percentage, which takes into account trips to the free throw line), Andrew Bynum (66%), Sasha “The Machine” Vujacic (60%) and Trevor Ariza (71.7%). After that things drop off.

• Re: Ariza, he is a career 16% three-point shooter who has upped that to 33% since coming to the Lakers (because of the open looks the triangle offense gets him). Still, when he lines up to shoot that corner three, defenders run at him and he steps around them baseline and gets to the basket almost every time. It’s brilliant and athletic, but I’m amazed teams don’t dare him to shoot from three.

• Commenter nomuskles got to check something off his to-do in life list that I have wanted to — see a game at Madison Square Garden. In case you missed it, here are some of his comments:

There were quite a few lakers fans in attendance. The Lakers got lots of cheers and Kobe got about 50/50 cheers/boos in introductions.

Saying Nate Robinson is “fast” doesn’t do him justice. He is beyond fast.

Jamal Crawford’s game resembles the game of the 42-year-old guy at the park who gets by on an ugly set shot and funky bank shots. Doesn’t matter how it happens, he puts the rock through the ring.

Two favorite things about the game today:

1. The crowd at MSG was great. They booed Isaiah as much possible, booed their own team for playing like crap through most of the game, and then got astronomically loud when the Knicks made it close. Chants of dee-FENSE were incredibly powerful. The crowd doesn’t need the scoreboard “noise-meter” to tell them to cheer. They just do it. The smallness of the garden helps give the game a great atmosphere. The cavernous space of Wachovia Center (in Philly) and Staples Center severely hinder the power of the crowd.

2. Jordan Farmar’s steal at the end was incredible. Just a huge sucker punch to the whole crowd. They believed they were going to tie the game with a three from crawford and Farmar just came out of nowhere to make the steal. He was just a blur in my vision as he got his hand on the pass.

• In Newsday this morning, Thomas questioned the starting lineup he had out there against the Lakers, saying maybe they needed more energy and defense. Ya think?

• I watched the late-night replay of the Lakers/Knicks game on NBATV (while assembling children’s Christmas toys — the instructions are unimaginably vague, it’s like a puzzle) and the Knicks announcers questioned Thomas in fairly stark terms. They also marveled at Kobe and really praised the Lakers bench, Well, in the first half.

• And one little trivia question from that broadcast — what Laker scored the most points in a single game against the Knicks? (Answer in the comments, get it right and you win, um, the adoration of all.)

• I think the Christmas day game could have a playoff like atmosphere. That is going to be a fun part of the day.

Records: Lakers 15-10; Knicks 8-18
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.4 (8th); Knicks 102.8 (24th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.6 (11th); Knicks 113.2 (30th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum
Knicks: Jamal Crawford, Fred Jones, Quentin Richardson, Zach Randolph, Eddy Curry

Lakers Notes: Everyone is very high on Andrew Bynum, and we should be high on the guy who has three straight games of double doubles (and he should have a good game today with Curry on him). We shouldn’t shortchange how far he has come in the past year.

But he still has a long way to go. Bynum still is limited in his post moves — he gets most of his points on dunks while getting the ball very deep, on lobs, running the floor or on putbacks. He still needs a lot of polish and some more post moves. Some here (and at other sites) have put Bynum in the same sentence as Shaq — Drew has not begun to show the breadth of post moves Shaq had, nor does he have vintage Shaq’s combo of girth and athleticism. He puts in good effort on defense (most nights) but he still does not defend big bodies in the post that well and is spotty on his rotations.

I love what Drew brings and he is getting better every game, but let’s not overdo it.

Kobe quote: There is a lot of talk about Kobe and the trade “fun” in the papers today, but I think this quote after the 76er game sums up where he is:

“I think we’re doing extremely well. We’ve made the progression to being a solid team, a team that plays consistently well. Even when you have a bad game, you still have an opportunity to win. That’s [the definition of] a solid team. So, now we’ve got to make the progression from being a solid team to jumping up to that elite level, and that’s the hardest step of all.”

The Knicks Coming In: Everything I know about the Knicks I learned from Knickerblogger. Mike at this site was a big part of who I tried to pattern FB&G’s style after, and it remains one of the best reads out there.

With all the focus on the soap opera around the Knicks, most people seem to think they are worse than they actually are. Not that they are good, but the Knicks are 7-8 at home this season and they beat the Cavaliers by 18 earlier this week. They can put together a good game and have some individual talent.

They have two guys who can score on the low block. Zach Randolph is putting up numbers almost identical to last year when he was a beast in Portland — shooting 47% from the floor, grabbing 18% of the available rebounds and he is using a healthy 26% of the team’s possessions.

Curry also can score — he’s shooting of 54% from the floor. David Lee, when he gets in the game, is shooting 53.4% and was the key to a recent Knicks win. The guy that may have the best night against the Lakers may be Jamal Crawford — he’s an athletic guy who plays sort of a shoot-first point guard role, and his athleticism could give the Laker perimeter defenders trouble.

What has hurt the Knicks most this year is defense — they are dead last in the league in defensive efficiency. Team’s shoot a very high 52.4% (eFG) against them and the Knicks create almost no turnovers. The Lakers should be able to score plenty.

Links you should be clicking: Check out the history of every sneaker Kobe has worn in the NBA (and some he hasn’t worn in games). (Thanks for the tip, J.)

We linked to this the other day, but JD Hastings has posted a few new vintage 1973 Lakers photos.

Keys To The Game: The Lakers are going to get plenty of points tonight — Randolph and Curry make a potentially great offensive combo inside but they are both weak defenders, so this should be a big night for Odom and Bynum. As a whole the Knicks are bad defenders, points shouldn’t be the problem.

The key for the Lakers will be defense. Crawford is not really a point (and Jones plays that role some and he isn’t a PG either) so the Lakers should be able to get turnovers with pressure. Crawford is capable of a big game, however, and whoever gets him needs to make sure he doesn’t get on a roll. Also, the Lakers need to play good defense on Curry and Randolph without getting into foul trouble.

This should be an interesting battle of two teams with good energy guys off the bench — Lee, Balkman and Jeffries play hard.

Today’s Game: Where Breakfast and Basketball Happens: The last game of a road trip is a traditional NBA stumbling block, whoever you are playing. And the Lakers have to play at 9 a.m. (by their body clocks). Also, the Knicks have put together some good games. And the Lakers have Kobe trying to put on a show in NY while still not 100%.

All of that is to say the Lakers should win this one, but I expect it to be closer and uglier than many others.

Where you can watch: Game time is 9.m. (Pacific). In Los Angeles tune into KCAL (9), nationally you can check out NBA TV.

Records: Lakers 15-9; 76ers 10-15
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.4 (8th); 76ers 103.4 (23rd)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.6 (11th); 76ers 104.8 (8th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum
76ers: Andre Miller, Willie Green, Andre Iguodala, Reggie Evans, Samuel Dalembert

Lakers Notes: My junior high basketball coach taught me a couple of basketball truths that I believe wholeheartedly to this day:

1) The referees never cost you a game.
2) You don’t lose a game because you missed a shot in the last seconds.

His point was simple — it’s the team’s fault for letting the game be close enough in the first place to be decided by a referee or a desperate shot. That’s how I look at last night’s Lakers game — this was a game that never should have come down to questionable calls and the all-Kobe-all-the-time offense at the end. The Lakers bench, for one of the few times this season, let the team down — Ariza was -17, Farmar -15, Radmanovic -14, and almost all of that because of the Cavs 16-0 run at the end of the third/start of the fourth that was just ugly for the Lakers.

The game left me with concerns about focus and how, once again with the game on the line the rest of the Lakers stood around and watched Kobe, who settled for pull-up jumpers from 20+ feet. I have concerns about not putting a team away on the second night of a back-to-back. I have concerns about what happens against good rebounding teams.

All of that said, those concerns are going on hold for now and I’m going to look at this game as a one-off. For now. Teams are allowed an off night now and again.

The 76ers Coming In: They got off to a slow start, but the Sixers are 5-2 in their last seven and are playing their best ball of the season.

The Sixers have some skill guys — Andre Miller is the kind of quick PG that has given the Lakers trouble in the past (plus he may try to post up the smaller Farmar), and Iguodala loves the isolation plays because he is so explosive (plus he may be the best taking the lob in the league). Green is another good athlete, he just hasn’t quite figured out how to use those skills best yet, and Dalembert doesn’t shoot often but is efficient when he does (54% shooting this season).

Off the bench, watch for some guys who can go bombs away. Louis Williams handles the point and is shooting 43.8% from three point range, and at his side as the two guard is Kyle Korver, whose only reason for existence is he can shoot the three (43% last year, but just 33% this year so far).

The 76ers are a team that relies more on isolation and athleticism than set plays, so the Lakers need to stay focused on their team defense. And don’t leave Korver alone at the three-point line. And watch Iguodala on the back-door lob.

Factoid That May Interest Only Peter King: Allen Iverson played more minutes in Denver’s double-overtime win last night than Javaris Crittenton has all season. (Via the great KD.)

Keys To The Game: Defensive discipline. The 76ers are a team of slashers and spot up guys, plus a couple of good rebounders. What the 76ers want to do on offense is get into some isolation, basketball, let they young athletes outdo your guys. If the Lakers play team defense — rotate from the weak side to stop the slashers, stick with shooters on the perimeter, box out Reggie Evans — and the 76er offense can be slowed. The Lakers need to make this a team game, not a one-on-one show.

And that goes for Kobe on offense, who has a tendency to try to follow up a poor performance with an “I’m The Man” night. The Lakers will score plenty if they run the offense and get shots within it. And if the bench shows up and plays the way it is capable, unlike last night.

Tonight’s Game: Where I Get To Watch Unperturbed Happens: Believe it or not, I almost never get to crack-open a beer and watch a game live (or, tonight,90 minutes behind live). I DVR the games, spend time with my children and wife, then start watching about 10 on our smaller television (and with a computer on my lap). Tonight, the kids are with the grandparents, the wife is off at the movies with friends and I get to just watch a game. With a friend. In peace. So the Lakers better not blow it.

Last night, after an embarrassing loss the previous night, the Cavs came out with energy and looked like they wanted to make up for the night before. I want to see that tonight from the Lakers because, bottom line, they are the better team and if they put out that kind of effort they win.

Where you can watch: Game time is 4 p.m. (Pacific). In Los Angeles tune into KCAL (9) but you’ll have to wait until 5:30 local time for the broadcast (so, in the comments, please use spoiler alerts).

And, a great line from The Kardiac Kid about last night’s broadcast:

Reggie Miller, however, had a rough night, with three mixed-metaphors, five idiotic/hyperbolic statements, and one grating voice.