The Lakers may have been able to end their 8 game losing streak with a win a in Philly over the 76ers, but the NBA schedule makers have a way of trying to humble you quickly. You’ll recall the 4 game in 5 night roadie the Lakers struggled on just a little while back, well now the team heads into Cleveland for it’s 3rd game in 4 nights and their 4th in 6 nights — all of which have been on the road.
Even if it weren’t a back to back, though, playing the Cavs would be a daunting challenge. The Cavs are the best team in the East and, if it weren’t for the Warriors looking amazing after adding Kevin Durant, the defending champion Cavs would likely be viewed as the best team in the league. Their starting lineup has one of the best net ratings in the league (+9.4 in 281 minutes) and any time LeBron, Love, and Kyrie share the floor they are outscoring teams by 11.4 points per 100 possessions.
And, at this point, I can’t even say they are going all out or playing particularly hard nightly. They are simply too good and can find ways to beat you because their stars are better than yours. And down the stretch they have a knack for turning it up on both ends of the floor to get the needed stops and then throw daggers into your heart with timely baskets.
So, yeah, the Lakers are in trouble tonight.
That said any time their are individual match ups like there will be tonight I am interested in seeing how they go. D’Angelo vs. Kyrie, Randle vs. Love, and whatever minutes we get where Ingram plays against LeBron will be the little games within the game I will be paying extra attention to. Not because these are some measuring stick performances where any good or bad performance says a whole lot, but just to see the attention to detail of the young Lakers in going up against these established stars. Yes, it would be nice if they held their own, but I’m more looking for how they compete. (UPDATE: Russell is not going to play tonight due to “rest”. Coming off his knee issue and the compressed schedule I mentioned above, I understand the approach.)
Beyond that, however, I’m not really hopeful for this game. The back to back against such a good team is just bad timing. So, I’m happy the Lakers were able to end their losing streak against the 76ers on Friday because it looks like tonight’s game might be another L in the making.
Where you can watch: 4:30pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet.