Pregame dribbles: What’s the answer for the ailing Cavs?
Tipoff: Staples Center, Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m. EST.
Records: Cavaliers 19-20; Lakers 12-27.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio, TNT. Radio: WTAM 1100, 100.7 WMMS, 87.7 FM La Mega, AM 1590 WAKR (Akron)
Cavaliers: C Timofey Mozgov; PF Kevin Love; SF LeBron James; SG J.R. Smith; PG Kyrie Irving.
Lakers: C Jordan Hill; PF Ed Davis; SF Wesley Johnson; SG Kobe Bryant; PG Ronnie Price.
Cavaliers: G Iman Shumpert (shoulder) out; C Anderson Varejao (Achilles) out.
Lakers: PG Steve Nash (sciatic nerve) out; PF Julius Randle (leg) out.
1. The Cavs may be shooting too many 3-pointers these days. During their current six-game losing streak, they’re firing up an average of a whopping 29.3 per game. During their last win (at the Hornets), they attempted just 15. So maybe there is indeed something to the idea of not settling for jumpers, huh?
2. As for transition defense, the Cavs have not been good lately. And that’s putting it mildly. Teams are simply beating the Cavs down the floor and at worst, setting up the offense with the greatest of ease.
3. The Lakers aren’t much of threat, but the Cavs have certainly lost to worse. Kobe Bryant is on his last legs, and while it’s fun to watch him try, rare are the nights where he can actually beat you. But he plays hard and his determination is admirable. It’s what made him great and what enables him to continue playing at the age of 36, especially after suffering some devastating injuries.
4. Lots of ties between these two teams (and not all of them good), starting with former Cavs coach Byron Scott — now roaming the sidelines in LA. Scott is kind and even jovial with reporters, making him a longtime media favorite. He also led the Nets to back-to-back Finals a little more than a decade ago. But this appears to be a losing situation for him. Sort of like it was in Cleveland.
5. Also, long ago Cavs forward Carlos Boozer now comes off the bench with the Lakers. Like Bryant, Boozer is nearing the end of his career. Like Bryant, Boozer is still capable of some impressive nights. But those nights are becoming increasingly more infrequent.
6. Back to the Cavs. They need a stinking win. If LeBron looks as explosive as he did in Tuesday’s loss to the Suns, they’ll have a pretty good chance. Especially if LeBron and J.R. Smith get some help (unlike the Suns loss).
7. This is a big stretch for Cavs coach David Blatt. He’s come under plenty of fire from fans and media during this stretch. As a guy who experienced remarkable success as a coach overseas, I’m sure all this losing is foreign to him. But he needs to take the bull (er, the Cavs) by the horns and get this team back to playing winning basketball. Once the Cavs hit their stride (if that ever happens), they could be lethal. But the time is near, kids. The time is near.