Cleveland Cavaliers vs Los Angeles Lakers

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

In Friday’s NBA action post-trade deadline, the Cleveland Cavaliers travel to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers. The Cavaliers had numerous roster shakeups Wednesday, as they have confirmed what everyone knew all along, which is that they are in full-on rebuild mode. They still have a basketball game to play Thursday, as they prepare to take on the depleted Lakers. Los Angeles was rolling early this season, but losing Anthony Davis back in February and then Lebron James in March, really has them reeling. There are no easy wins in the NBA, but they have a favorable matchup Tuesday against the Cavs at home.

Who is going to be left in the Cleveland frontcourt when all is said and done?

The Cavaliers traded center Javale McGee to the Denver Nuggets Wednesday, and all reports indicate that after not being able to trade Andre Drummond, they are prepared to immediately buy out his contract and let him sign with whoever. That being said, they are extremely thin in their frontcourt and do not have a single prominent big man outside of Jarrett Allen. Winning is not a top priority for them right now as much as building assets is, but it will be interesting to see how they utilize the bigs that they do have for the rest of the season.

Allen has shown promise throughout his young career and appears to be a player that the Cavs envision for their future, as he is a top-tier shot-blocker and a good rebounder. Outside of him, there is not a ton to work with for Cleveland in the paint. This has been a lost year for the Cavs for about the last month, but they have continued to play hard and steal wins from good teams like they hope to do Friday against the Lakers.

How long can the Lake Show tread water with James and Davis Sidelined?

The Lakers are doing their best to stay in contention with their two biggest stars out with injury, and hope to take advantage of a bad Cleveland team who just had their roster heavily shake at home on Friday night, and pick up another victory. Since James went down however, the Cavs have yet to win a game, and have lost their last three in a row. Thursday night they will take on the East’s top team in the 76ers who are also playing without their superstar Joel Embiid with hopes of snapping their losing streak before hosting Cleveland.

Davis and James are the heart and soul of the Lakers, and without one or both of them, they have struggled mightily. If they lose to Philadelphia Thursday, it will be four consecutive losses for them, and with the West being so competitive year after year, they hope to not be completely behind in the standings by the end of the season. With a Cavs team coming to town who has been bad all year, they hope to at least beat them, and take a step forward in the win column for the first time in over a week.

The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet

Even without James and Davis, the Lakers are still better on paper than the Cavs at this very moment. Obviously, the Collin Sexton huge-game card can always be in play, but the Lakers possess the defensive guards to limit him, which is exactly what I think they will do Friday, and gut-out a victory on their home floor.

LA Lakers -3.5

Want another opinion on this pick?


Full-Game Total Pick

Across the board in this matchup, I see a bunch of defensive players and not a lot of start scoring ability for either side. The Lakers have taken a big step back offensively since their stars got injured, and Cleveland lacks a presence inside, so I think this will be a lower-scoring game, that could be sloppy at times.