Lakers-Cavaliers: Two Keys to the Game

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers (44-33) are currently red hot. They have won eight of their last nine games and are officially tied with the Sacramento Kings for the eighth seed.

They will look to continue their hot streak in today’s home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers (46-31). 

Despite how well the Lakers have played, there is still little room for error moving forward. The race for a higher playoff seed in the Western Conference is extremely tight, with the Lakers currently just two games behind the Suns for the sixth seed. 

The Cavaliers present a tough matchup for the Lakers, as they have both a loaded backcourt with Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland and a strong frontcourt with Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. 

Here are two ways the Lakers can slow the Cavaliers down and come away with the victory. 

Prioritize the Perimeter 

The Cavaliers are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league, as they are currently in the top seven in three-pointers made.

While Donovan Mitchell is largely responsible for this, the Cavaliers also have a well-rounded bench that can shoot well from outside the arch. 

On the contrary, the Lakers have not done well from three this season. They are only 24th in three-pointers per game and allow the third most three-pointers in the league. 

This must improve today against the Cavs. The perimeter should be prioritized defensively, and players such as D’Angelo Russell, the Lakers’ strongest three-point shooter this season, should get more looks on the outside. 

Despite having Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, the Cavs have been average to below-average at scoring inside the paint and shooting mid-ranges, ranking 17th and 24th in their respective categories. If the Lakers wish to slow down the Cavs, they must force them inside. 

Spread the Ball Around

As great as stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been during this stretch for the Lakers, the Cavaliers are a very strong defensive team overall. They do not allow many points from threes, mid-range, or the paint. 

This means that the Lakers will have trouble finding a specific position group or area of the court to exploit. Due to this, their best bet is to spread the ball around and give everyone an equal opportunity to make plays. 

While the offense should still absolutely run through LeBron and AD, this needs to be a big game for Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura as well. Hachimura, in particular, has been hot lately, scoring at least 14 points in his past six games. 

This matchup provides Gabe Vincent with the chance to make an impact, as the Lakers will need a scorer off the bench who can contribute from the three-point line. 

This is a huge game for the Purple and Gold in the standings, and it will be important to capitalize with a win.

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