Cavaliers vs. Lakers Preview

On December 25th, the Los Angeles Lakers did not necessarily have a Merry Christmas as the Cleveland Cavaliers demolished them 102-87 at the Staples Center. The game may have had questionable calls by the officials but the Cavaliers came out ready to play and surprised the Lakers with the victory.

Key factors in that game occurred when Jamario Moon came off the bench for 13 points while teammates Lebron James finished with 26 points and Mo Williams finished with 28 points. The Cavaliers were able to keep a consistent lead throughout the game as the Lakers frustrations with the officials led to their demise on the court. After Lakers guard Kobe Bryant started mouthing off to the officials, his frustrations rippled through the whole team and made them lose their focus.

It’s almost been a month since that game occurred and but both teams are still at the top of their divisions and their conferences. The Cavaliers have the best record in the Eastern Conference with a 32-11 record while the Lakers stand atop the Western Conference with a 32-9 record. Both teams are among the NBA’s elite and have had their inconsistencies against weaker teams.

When looking at history and the excitement surrounding this game, home court advantage will work in favor of the Cavaliers. The Cavaliers have won four out of the last five meetings at Quicken Loans Arena against the Lakers and will have a packed house to play in front of. Cleveland fans will be loud, proud and could be key if the Cavaliers get off to an early lead.

If the Cavaliers want to get ahead early on and maintain the lead, Cleveland will have to get physical early on and use what’s available to them. Jamario Moon and Mo Williams (who injured his shoulder Tuesday against Toronto and could be out 4-6 weeks) are out of the lineup for tonight’s game meaning Delonte West (who will be starting in place of Williams), Anderson Varejao, Zydrunas Illgauskus, Jawad Williams and JJ Hickson will have to be ready to get physical underneath the boards and take advantage of open opportunities. Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum will be ready to play physical underneath the boards and can take control of this game early on if the Cavaliers are not careful.

In the last matchup, the officiating was questionable on both sides of the basketball but Bryant’s frustrations with the calls had a rippling effect on the entire team. Once Bryant and his teammates started mouthing back to the officials, technical fouls were issued and the Lakers lost their focus. If the Lakers manage to keep their cool and their focus, they will be a tough team to beat and the Cavaliers will need to be ready to play defense. Defense has not always been a strong suit for the Cavaliers this season but with a determined Lakers team coming into their house, they will need to be ready to step it up.

This game will be watched by many and after being embarrassed by the Cavaliers on Christmas Day, the Lakers have not forgotten the pain felt from that loss. Since that time, the Lakers have played well while the Cavaliers struggled a bit on their last road trip. The Lakers will be a team determined to take the Cavaliers and the crowd out early on and can do so with a quick run to start the early quarters of the game. The Cavaliers will need to keep the crowd loud in this game and will need to get off to an early lead.

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~ by jeffrsabo on January 22, 2010.

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