The Cleveland Cavaliers head out west to face the LA Lakers at Staples Center on Friday night. A four-game losing streak has the defending champions reeling and in danger of falling further down the standings. At 28-17, they are fourth in the Western Conference but are barely holding down the fort.
With the trade-deadline empowering the Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers just a game and a half behind, the LA Lakers cannot afford to absorb loss after loss without consequence. The absences of LeBron James and Anthony Davis have plunged the Purple and Gold back to the Dark Ages both offensively and defensively with no help in sight.
The visiting Cleveland Cavaliers, on the other hand, have been on a roll of late. Though they have an inferior record at 17-27, the Cavs have won three of their last five games, although they haven’t won two in a row since March 1. Last Wednesday, they beat the Chicago Bulls 103-94 even without Collin Sexton, the team’s top scorer.
Fixture - Cleveland Cavaliers vs LA Lakers | 2020-21 NBA Season
Date & Time - Friday, March 26th, 10:30 PM ET (Saturday, March 27th, 8:00 AM IST)
Venue - STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
Cleveland Cavaliers Preview
The Cleveland Cavaliers used a balanced scoring attack to defeat the Bulls and that’s what it will take for them to win back-to-back games again. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff had five players score in double figures, while the team had 28 assists for the contest compared to 21 for their opponents.
Second-year guard Darius Garland led the team in both scoring (22) and assists (9). He also made four of their 11 three-pointers as he outplayed both Tomas Satoransky and Coby White. Jarrett Allen took charge of the defensive end, blocking three shots and stealing the ball twice. Not only that, the Cleveland Cavaliers big man played off of Garland’s strong play by scoring 19 points and grabbing nine rebounds as well.
When they meet the LA Lakers on Friday, the Cleveland Cavaliers will have a bit of momentum for the second match of their four-game road trip.
Key Player - Darius Garland
Darius Garland will be counted on to provide the Cleveland Cavaliers with the scoring touch they need, especially if Sexton sits out his second straight game with a sore hamstring. Garland recognizes that he is going to be their go-to-guy when Sexton isn’t around and he responded by orchestrating their offense to perfection in their last outing.
If he can continue to play as forcefully against the LA Lakers, the second-year guard will give the Cleveland Cavaliers a good chance of winning the game. Garland, who is averaging 16.6 points per game this season, has been on fire in his last five games. During that stretch, he averaged 21.6 points and shot 55.0 percent from three.
Cleveland Cavaliers Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Darius Garland l Shooting Guard - Isaac Okoro l Small Forward - Cedi Osman l Power Forward - Larry Nance Jr. l Center - Jarrett Allen
LA Lakers Preview
The LA Lakers are in need of an infusion of talent. They’ve been competitive most times but they lack the finishing kick needed to pull off a win in the end. What’s worse, they don’t know how long until either LeBron James or Anthony Davis can return. That makes it imperative the front office gets more bodies in the buyout market while coach Frank Vogel gets his team playing with a greater sense of urgency.
The LA Lakers did the latter during the fourth quarter of last night’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Purple and Gold came storming back from an 18-point deficit in the final period and cut it down to just three with only 51.4 seconds remaining.
But the Sixers were able to stave off the rally and the LA Lakers fell for the fourth straight time. Kyle Kuzma led them in scoring with 25 points, with Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell contributing 20 apiece.
They could use that fourth-quarter push as a jumping-off point for tonight’s game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Key Player - Kyle Kuzma
Before tonight's game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers, it has been three and a half games since LeBron James succumbed to a severe ankle sprain and yet the LA Lakers still look lost at times on the floor without their leader. Kyle Kuzma, the player who was supposed to be the team’s third star, has seemed reluctant to embrace leadership responsibility, particularly on the offensive end.
Perhaps Vogel should push the fourth-year forward from Utah into the spotlight more and give him permission to take over the reins. Though Schroder and Harrell have been carrying a lot of the load on offense, Kuzma should be given the chance to finally showcase his talent without their biggest stars.
After leading the Lakers in scoring versus the Sixers, he should carry that success over when they meet the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.
LA Lakers Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Dennis Schroder l Shooting Guard - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope l Small Forward - Kyle Kuzma l Power Forward - Markieff Morris l Center - Marc Gasol
Cavaliers vs LA Lakers Match Prediction
The Cleveland Cavaliers don’t know if they will have Collin Sexton available to play on Friday and they will be shorthanded further with JaVale McGee having been traded at the trade deadline. This handicap in personnel could play to the LA Lakers’ advantage along with the fact that they have shown some improvement in playing without their two stars.
Based on Thursday’s performance in the first half and the fourth quarter, there’s a good chance that this will be the breakthrough game for the LA Lakers and it will come at the Cleveland Cavaliers’ expense.