Preview & Chat: The Cleveland Cavaliers

Kurt —  January 21, 2010

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Records: Lakers 32-9 (1st in West) Cavaliers 32-11 (1st in East)
Offensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 108.5 (10th in league), Cavaliers 110.4 (6th in league)
Defensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 101.1 (2nd in league) Cavaliers 103.4 (5th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Cavaliers: Delonte West, Anthony Parker, LeBron James, JJ Hickson, Shaq Daddy.

On The Road Again: It’s a bit of a cliché to say that you really learn about a team on a long road trip, but it’s a cliché because it’s somewhat true. What happens in the next eight games will not determine of the Lakers will win or lose the NBA title, it will not decide if the Lakers can beat Cleveland or Boston in a seven game series, but we’ll have a lot better idea how close they are when it is over.

Aside that, do I really need to hype up a meeting with Cleveland more? After the Christmas Day Massacre of ’09, every Laker fan would like to see a little revenge.

Cavaliers coming in: No Mo Williams tonight due to a shoulder injury, which is a break for the Lakers as he dropped 28 on them on Christmas.

The Cavaliers come in 7-3 in their last 10 (same as the Lakers) and playing as well as anyone in the NBA right now (save maybe the Bobcats who are on fire).

Cavalier blogs — and I’m on a podcast: John over at Cavs the Blog is not only a good guy but a very smart blogger.

Also, I will be on the podcast for The Dugouts Sports Show, a live podcast leading up to the start of the Cavs game. I should be on about 3:40 pm Pacific Time, so check it out.

Keys to game: The two big matchups to watch are Delonte West on Derek Fisher — West is a very good point guard in their system and creates a lot of problems off the dribble or as a shooter. After what Mo Williams did to the Lakers last meeting, look for the Cavs to attack with the point guard.

However, the corollary to that is the old injury axiom that the problem is not the backup, but the backup’s backup. Jordan Farmar (and Shannon Brown) will see more of Gibson and they need to exploit that matchup off the bench.

The other matchup is that JJ Hickson should not be able to stop Pau Gasol. Now, that means the Lakers need to focus on this matchup and get Pau the ball, but if they do he can have a big night.

Finally, the Cavaliers do love them some midrange game — they bring LeBron off of what many Lakers fans might remember as the “Rip Hamilton screen” off the free throw line that the Pistons love and hurt the Lakers with back in 2004. The Cavaliers shot lights out last meeting, the Lakers need to close on those shooters and not give open looks to have a chance tonight.

Where you can watch: 5 p.m. start here out west, the first game of the TNT double header. So for once, we can bleed into somebody else’s game and not the other way around.


233 responses to Preview & Chat: The Cleveland Cavaliers

  1. 188. whenver cavs fans trash talk me, all i say is “how many titles does your team/player have?” 0 and 0.

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  2. 184……..yeah because I missed those free throws for Pau and on three straight trips i didn’t allow Odom to get a hand in Lebron’s face.

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  3. 199. Other than Kobe’s finger and back, and maybe a little bit of rust from Gasol (which is an excuse I choose not to say because its crap) we were healthy. We were missing nobody. Gasol played tenative and scared that was his problem.

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  4. TNT started having trouble with their feed in the second half. I thought they would have had it fixed by now.

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  5. #168, you mean the games in which they beat us by three points, respectively, with all of their players healthy at the time? Uh, sure, yeah, they beat us “convincingly.”

    This is a Cavs team that killed us by twenty in Staples, and then beat us by six without their second best player.

    No, this sweep and the Orlando sweep last year are nothing alike.

    Well, at least we can contribute Kobe’s injuries to the loss, and Farmar and Brown both played better than they have before.

    Regarding our chances against Cleveland in a 7-game series, I’m not too sure. No one on our team can guard LeBron or Shaq, so what can we do? When help comes, someone is always left open (usually at the 3), and Cleveland has enough good 3-point shooters to make us pay for that.

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  6. 191 – Darius is right on. In the wrap-up from the Christmas game, someone noted (sorry, don’t remember who) that our frontline is somewhere between 4 and 1,000 times faster than Cleveland’s frontline. I can remember maybe three times where we pushed the pace against Cleveland, and only once when it was triggered by Lamar.

    We didn’t use our advantages (like Kobe being double-teamed throughout the 4th) and we didn’t create mismatches. For instance, how many times did Lebron wind up guarded by Lamar? On offense, we took advantage of Luke posting up on a smaller guy once. Other than that, poor offense throughout the 4th.

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  7. 200 – I hate the phrase “technical difficulties”. The broadcasters have that line down…

    “I apologize, we seem to be experiencing some technical difficulties here…”

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  8. Put your money on Henry Abbott jumping all over Kobe (31 pts on 31 shots) and the Lakers. I don’t know if you guys have noticed but Abbott loves to either find a negative article on Kobe/Lakers or make a snide remark against Kobe/Lakers whenever the lose.

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  9. 205 – Our ability to guard one man is not a real concern. Lebron was great, yes, but most NBA players will hit an open jumper when he has five feet of space. Those situations were created by Cleveland properly spacing the floor and the Lakers getting lazy on defense.

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  10. Speaking of shaq, how are we the only team in the league with bigs who can’t guard him?! No other team in the league has any problems with him anymore. He’s fat, slow, lazy, and can’t jump anymore! What’s so difficult about it?!

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  11. tarugo yo’ da man!

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  12. What is the deal with Kobe’s finger? will it be bothering him all the way into playoffs?

    anybody got a link to a site where they talk about it? what kind of break was it? is it bad?

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  13. This loss worries me because Cavs now have tie breaker for home court advantage. Thats why this was technically a must win. Unlike Orlando last year, the Cavs will battle us for best record, and I don’t care what anyone says, the last two years illustrate the importance of home court advantage.

    Pau was battling down low in the post and i though got fouled on three straight possessions by Varrejo and didn’t get called. His missed free throws sucked, but the lakers as a team shot 62.5% from the free throw line.

    It seemed that the Lakers were taking terrible shots after the first quarter. I just want to see a triangle offense. Did I miss it? I don’t think I saw it much today.

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  14. aB, it’s cuz abbott is a homer jailblazers fan who’s always hated on kobe and the lakers

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  15. Zirk,
    The Lakers got lazy on their defense on the re-post tonight. The Cavs showed excellent patience in passing to Shaq, Shaq then passing back to the perimeter, and then re-posting to get better position. He used his strength to his advantage and the Laker’s bigs were concerned with foul trouble. The plays where we attacked Shaq and/or contested shots he did poorly (only hitting that lucky bank on Pau in the 2nd quarter). But, for most of the night, and especially in the 2nd half, Bynum and Pau both allowed Shaq to set up in his sweet spot on the right block and shoot his little hook against the glass. Shaq would still get 20+ a game if he’s shooting all his shots from 5 feet and in the way he did for most of tonight.

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  16. I know it’s “January” but getting swept by the Cavs is absolutely unacceptable. It definitely means something. In both games the Cavs bigs outplayed the Lakers bigs.

    Pau went back to the shrinking violet we remember from the 2008 Finals, Bynum never decided to show up, and Lamar drifted through the game like he couldn’t wait for it to end.

    This Laker team needs a shakeup.

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  17. 178

    You’re right, Gasol chokes at the line in the 4th quarter of games time and time again.

    I’m not exactly sure but I believe this is the 3rd time this season gasol has choked at the line in the 4th quarter.

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  18. Here’s the bright side: If we can show up against Boston and pull off a convincing win, nobody will remember this game.

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  19. Regardless of LBJ saying this game didn’t mean much, Cleveland has thrown down quite a challenge to our heroes.

    Let’s hope the teams are able to meet in the Finals to settle this.

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  20. Darius,
    I completely agree with your analysis. My main concern is that our bigs aren’t exactly know for their D, especially Bynum. Pau just lacks a lot of strength, but Bynum just doesn’t seem to have the desire, focus, and will to be a great defender. I hope I’m proven wrong, but right now, I just don’t see it. He seems to only care about the glory of scoring. As great of a scorer Kobe is, at least he takes pride in his defense. Yes, he may get burned a lot, but what great defender doesn’t? But at least he trys! Even Howard, who many would agree is severly lacking offensively, is a great defender. I think playing D is a lot about will and our bigs don’t seem to have it. Hence shaq getting the great post position, etc.

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  21. I almost didn’t look at the blog tonight because I knew the freak-out comments would be high, but I’m a glutton for punishment.

    The Cavs didn’t exactly run away with this one. If the Lakers executed well on all cylinders (cough cough free throws, post defense) and lost, maybe a freak out would be warranted. But they didn’t. It was still a tough close loss to a team that wanted to prove they could win amidst tough news (we’ve seen that before…hec, we’ve done that before), and they almost didn’t. The Cavs have a tough road over the next 4-6 weeks; the Lakers just need to concentrate on getting healthy & if the best record comes with that, great. If not, they have proven they can win in a variety of circumstances on the road.

    I’m not stopping the presses on championship t-shirt number 16 just yet.

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  22. 216.

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    And this is just the frustration coming out.

    Is it me or do the lakers play poorly in all nationally televised games.

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  23. Bottom line this is one game. Lecocky will have to get to the finals and Beat LA before he gets any “great” accolade from me! Kobe us King lebrat needs to grow up.

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  24. That was a tough loss. I do think it gives the Cavs some swagger, especially their bigs. They may not dominate us, but they neutralized Gasol and Bynum.

    We shot 38% from the field. 62% from the line. Kobe took 31 shots. The only thing that I see separating this from the Christmas day beat down was that they didn’t have Mo tonight.

    I know it is only January, but right now the Cavs are better than the Lakers. Glad it is not June.

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  25. I know everyone is saying this is just one game. And I agree. But the mark of last season’s team was they rose to the occasion for the big games. That seems to be the opposite this season. Also, I believe all of the basketball is starting to catch up with Pau Gasol. He is still a superbly talented player. But something is missing this season. He was the very definition of consistency last season. Now he seems to wilt in the big games.

    Also, I am about ready to lobby for Bynum to go the the bench and let LO start. I am offically frustrated with the kid. Maybe if Lamar starts the Lakers would get a little more from him. I don’t know. I am just frustrated like everyone else.

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  26. Kurt – that was a post game frustration comment on my part. Although we will continue to disagree about Gasol’s effectiveness against physical players I am not ready to blame this loss on Gasol.

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  27. Just got back from the game, let me tell you the atmosphere was amazing. The last 5 mins were so tense; nobody sat down. I’ll have something longer up soon.

    Some quick notes:

    -This is the 2nd game in a row where Bynum got beasted by a big man. This time though, it was Shaq’s sheer girth that did it. Pau got beasted as well, and it was clear that our help defense wasn’t good enough against Shaq.

    -Anderson Varejao did all the little things that won the Cavs that game. He got a crucial tip in the middle of the fourth and he also made the game-winning play by going hard for the ball and getting fouled by the Lakers on the last possession.

    -Being at the game live, it didn’t seem like any Laker played particularly bad; the Cavs just did all the little things that helped them win, like getting loose balls and offensive rebounds.

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  28. Lots of good points being made. Bynum has yet to show up for a “big” game, at least during this season. I think the early foul trouble really bothers him still. Another thing I’ve picked up upon is the Artest’s inability at times to find the person in the post. Lebron’s length really bothered him a few times when he was trying to get it into Pau. Pau clearly had the advantage on Hickson and they went to him like once when he had that matchup. The bottom line is the rest of the nba is going to give the lakers their best shot because they’re the defending champs and the intensity level needs to step up. It’s not for anything excessive, but the team has to start coming together. One thing that I liked, albeit due to a mistake, was the way in which Phil got into Farmar for breaking away from the offense. The triangle at its best works most efficiently when the post is being fed. We have advantages, but sometimes our players for whatever reason are reluctant to or just can’t recognize them.

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  29. Well, I think we need a few more losses so that our players can buy into the system more.

    Players seem to be, for lack of a better phrase, not really listening to PJ as much as they should.

    But still, it was a 6 point game even with all those missed FTs, so I’m not too unhappy.

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  30. pau had his worst gAME OF THE SEASON TODAY AND WE STILL HAD A CHANCE TO WIN

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  31. @232

    Remember Mo Williams, who tore the Lakers up on Christmas, was out.

    As I am sure everyone knows, there have been a lot of rumors about CLE packaging Z’s or Shaq’s contract for another high-level player, such as Antawn Jamison. My guess is Ferry will think long and hard about that given the Lakers’ inability to deal with a bigger team in these two games.

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