Los Angeles Lakers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Los Angeles Lakers (32-9 18-23 ATS) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (32-11 20-23 ATS) Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH 8 PM EST Thursday January 21, 2010 on TNT
by Jason Green at Predictem.com

Point Spread: Lakers +3 / Cavs -3
Over/Under: 195

Tonight the Cleveland Cavaliers host the Los Angeles Lakers in a game that looks like a preview of the finals in June. This is the 2nd meeting of these 2 teams this season and the Lakers may want a little revenge, as on Christmas Day King James and the Cavs smoked the Lakers in front of a national TV audience and at home no less.

This season the Cavs are 15-3 at home and the Lakers are 9-6 on the road.

The Cavs have won 2 in a row, are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and lead the Chicago Bulls by 12.5 games in the Central Division. The Lakers have won 3 in a row, are also 7-3 in their last 10 games, and lead the Phoenix Suns by 8 games in the Pacific Division.

Both Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are the front-runners for the MVP, once again, but the key to this game will be which supporting cast can step it up. Last season the Lakers won the NBA title and the main reason was that Kobe got a lot of help, especially from Pau Gasol, while the Cavs flamed out in the Eastern Conference semifinals since he had to do it all.

Cleveland has a legit defense and they not only have to play good D against Bryant, but also Pau Gasol (17 ppg), Ron Artest (11.8 ppg), Andrew Bynum (15.6 ppg), and super 6th man Lamar Odom (9.7 ppg). If any of these guys has a good game the Lakers will be tough to beat.

Even though Shaquille O’Neal is averaging career lows in both scoring and rebounding he is a HUGE key for the Cavs, as he clogs up the middle and is still a great passer. The Cavs need him and Mo Williams (16.9 ppg) to play well tonight, especially on the offensive end of the court.

In their last game the Cavs beat the Toronto Raptors 108-100 on Tuesday night. Yeah, James was the high scorer in the game going for 28 points and he was only one rebound short of a triple-double grabbing 9 boards and dishing out 11 assists. For the game the Cavs shot well going 38/72 for a FG% of 52.8%. On D the Cavs allowed the Raptors to shoot 40/83 for a FG% of 48.2%.

The Lakers looked solid in their last game beating the Orlando Magic 98-92 in a rematch of last season’s finals. The surprise high scorer for the Lakers in the game was reserve Shannon Brown blowing up for 22 points on 8/12 shooting. For the game the Lakers shot 38/89 for a FG% of 42.7%. On defense the Lakers allowed the Magic to shoot 36/82 for a FG% of 43.9%.

This season the Lakers rank 6th in scoring (103.5 ppg) and the Cavs rank 10th (101.1 ppg). On D is where the Cavs shine, as they rank 4th in points allowed (94.6 ppg) and the Lakers rank a solid 7th (96.4 ppg). The Cavs are one of the best teams on the boards, as they have a rebounding differential of +4.4 rpg and the Lakers are no slouch on the glass at +2.2 rpg.

According to the Sagarin NBA ratings these are the twp 2 teams in the league, as the Cavs rank 1st (96.55) and the Lakers rank 2nd (96.25).

L.A. is 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 games, 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games on the road, and the total has gone Under in the Lakers last 6 games when they are the road underdog.

Cleveland is 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 games, 2-6 ATS in their last 6 road games, 15-6 ATS in their last 21 home games against teams with a winning road record, and the total has gone Over in their last 4 games when they are the favorite.

On the injury front C Andrew Bynum is day-to-day for the Lakers while the Cavs are not reporting any significant injuries.

Jason’s Pick: Kobe vs. LeBron what a match up! King James got the upper hand and is likely to walk away a winner tonight as well. Point guard Mo Williams is likely OUT of tonight’s game whcih means Lebron will handle the ball more and this spells big trouble for the Lakeshow. Lay the points with the Cavs.