The Los Angeles Lakers proud possessors of the NBA’s best record and still improving are hosting the (22-8) Cleveland Cavaliers. The ascending Lakers are doing it with defense. They’re allowing 95 points, pulling down 45 rebounds per game and shutting teams down on a nightly basis.
Repeating as a Champion is tough to do, but one of the best things to see was that the Lakers didn’t stand pat and decided not to make any improvements after winning it all.
The improved defense was a key ingredient in the Lakers winning a championship last year, as well as putting them in position for a repeat performance. The addition of Ron Artest has been key to the improvement.
The Lakers have improved their perimeter defense by limiting their aggressiveness, unlike last year when they were vulnerable to open three point shots particularly on the weak side of the floor Now the Lakers are better job on rotating, which is making life difficult for opposing shooters.
A much anticipated marquee match up between the leagues two best players will be must see TV. This is the 11th straight year that we’ll see the Lakers play on Christmas Day. Last year the Purple and Gold used the game as a measuring stick and issued the first of two beat downs to the Celtics. However, the Cavaliers are putting much more emphasis on this game using it as a measuring stick compared to the Lakers.
The Lakers beat the Cavaliers twice last year, the headliners Kobe & Lebron didn’t disappoint, Kobe Bryant averaged 21.5 points and Lebron James averaged 18 points in their head to head match up, but the difference maker was clearly Pau Gasol doing damage inside. Pau Gasol posted a combined 40 points and 25 rebounds. This comes as no surprise because since his return the Los Angeles Lakers have dominated.
Cleveland feels that they’re a Championship team and they want to send a message to the Lakers, but the message will be sent back labeled ‘return to sender’.
The match up to watch will be between Lebron and Ron Artest. Although Lebron will defend Kobe more than Bryant defends him.
The Lakers will start their attack on the inside by establishing the combination of Pau Gasol & Andrew Bynum. Both players need to be aggressive and attack the rim, this tactic should be beneficial to the Lakers and get the visitors in foul trouble. The power, speed and size of Lebron will be on display and it is safe to say that he will be a factor in this game.
Make no mistake the Cavaliers are a contender and this contest will be competitive.
You can expect Shaq to play major minutes in this game. However, the Laker’s size, length, athleticism, versatility and execution down the stretch as well as being led by the leagues best player will be too much to overcome and you can consider the Cavaliers another team that will be bitten once or twice by the Black Mamba.
The Black Mamba’s venom is very potent and is known to cause systematic paralysis in the fourth quarter.
Tip-off: 2:00 PM PST
- Los Angeles: ESPN & ABC
- Cleveland: ESPN & ABC
- Los Angeles: ESPN 710 AM (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Cleveland: WTAM 1100 AM (Joe Tait & Mike Snyder)
- Luke Walton (Back) Out
- Kobe Bryant (Avulsion Fracture of Right Index Finger, Knee)
- Mo Williams (Knee)
- Jamario Moon (Abdomen)