The Lakers and Cavaliers have identical records, 16-32. Both expected to have different seasons and both are on the road to perdition. But how they got here, that is what separates the two teams. The Lakers have suffered through injuries, have been depleted by missing players and so many lineups to remember them all you get dizzy. The Cavs are just miserable. Their #1 draft pick Anthony Bennett is on pace to be the worst #1 pick in NBA History. (Note: The NBA draft has been going on for 65 years). Every day it seems Kyrie Irving has to deny his desire to get the hell out of town. He wants everyone to believe he is not going to be the first player to turn down a max extension and force a trade to New York but no one believes him and why should they? He plays like being in Cleveland is the same as being in prison. He has a very selfish and exclusionary game and a very brilliant and talented game. His teammate, Dion Waiters, is unhappy as well or he is okay not being happy or…whatever. Mike Brown is coaching this mess, much of which he created, and Luol Deng is disgusted after coming from the cohesion at Chicago, he feels like an alien in a strange land where the natives speak a language he doesn’t understand.
Compared to the Cavs the Lakers are blissful. None of the Lakers hate each other, it is just the losing that has worn them down. The All-Star break cannot come soon enough. The Lakers have won two games in the last 30 days. The Cavs have won five games in the last 30 days. One of those games, on January 14th, was against each other and the Cavs won by two. The Lakers had 35 assists, thanks to Kendall Marshall’s 16 dimes, but the Cavs outrebounded the Lakers by 13. Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson had 31 rebounds, 11 offensive. The Lakers are one of the worst offensive rebounding teams and nothing should change when the teams meet again especially without Pau Gasol. Chris Kaman and Jordan Hill are too slow to match up with Varejao and Thompson and Robert Sacre is athletic but not consistent enough to block out in the paint or to go and get loose balls with the frenetic energy Varejao plays with.
Neither team shoots the ball well. The Cavs are the worst 2 point field goal percentage in the league and the Lakers are not far behind, they are the 8th worst. The Cavs have terrible ball movement. Their offense usually consists of Kyrie over dribbling and holding the ball and then driving to the rim for a shot. He plays a lot of hero ball. To say he dominates their offensive possessions is an understatement. Think Kobe 2006.
Luol Deng has helped the Cavs and he is the reason the Lakers lost in January but he can’t fix this Mike Brown disaster. But he can still score and he is tough defensively which makes him better than anyone on the Lakers team. Whoever he is guarding will probably struggle to get a shot off.
Steve Nash won’t play but Jordan Farmar will be back and expect him to be rusty; there might be a few turnovers. Besides this is a second night of a back to back. The last time the Lakers won a second game of a back to back they were in Memphis, Kobe was playing and it was December 17th.
That said Mike Brown is a terrible coach who has lost control of the inmates. Kyrie is an All-Star. Luol has been an All-Star. But this is a sinking ship. If the Lakers play hard they can come out with a win. Or they can sleep walk through the game which they have done many times before and the Cavs will win by 6.