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.
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.