Los Angeles Lakers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Preview and Pick

Los Angeles Lakers (15-9) at Cleveland Cavaliers (11-15), 8:00pm ET Thursday Night, TNT.
by Matt of Predictem.com

Two of the NBAs biggest stars tangle tonight in Cleveland as Kobe Bryant and the Lakers go on the road to take on LeBron James and the Cavaliers. An 8:00pm ET tip, TNT airs the contest from Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

L.A. has surprised some with their solid play so far and they look to make it three in a row with a victory tonight. The Lakers are coming off a 103-91 win against the Bulls in Chicago Tuesday night, where they improved their straight up road record to 6-5. The Cavs, on the other hand, have been struggling of late, winning only two of their previous ten before losing another to the Knicks last night. LeBron did have 32 points and grab 8 boards but it was not enough as Cleveland fell by 18, 90-108, at Madison Square Garden. The Cavaliers will look to use the home cooking to help them to a win; they currently own a 6-5 SU home mark.

The Lakers will be looking to pull closer in the Pacific Division where they sit second to the Suns by 2 games as Phoenix lost last night to the Mavs. The Cavs try to right the ship and keep from losing any more ground to the Midwest Division leading Pistions. In third, the Cavs are behind Indiana as well and coupled with a Pistons win last night v. Boston, the Cavs defeat at the hands of New York has them 7.5 games behind the division leader.

Thursday morning finds the Cavs a 2 point home dog with the over/under total at 205 points. L.A. sits at -135 on the money line with the Cleveland at a +115.
Depending on your sportsbook of choice, a better road line of -1 is out there at some Offshores if you like the Lakers.

On the season, the Lakers are 15-9 against the spread overall with a 7-4 road mark, while the Cavaliers are 10-16 overall, 3-8 ATS playing at home. L.A. has won its last 4 road games ATS and are 6-1 in the last 7 overall. The Cavs do seem to play better against the Western Conference as of late, going 5-2 against the spread in their last 7 versus such opponents.

Kobes crew is the more efficient offensive unit as they average 107 points for a contest, contributing to Laker games averaging 208 points total, the over/under is even at 12-12 on the year. The Cavs average a full ten points less a game at 96.8 and have a total game average of 197 but the over has been hit at a higher rate in Cleveland games, 15 out of 25, including 5 of the last 7 in Cleveland.

Cleveland got the upper hand in two February 07 meetings, winning 99-90 in L.A. and then 114-108 a few days later at Quicken Loans Arena. Those games were good for a 205 average total and the o/u was 1-1. Recently, the under is 5-1 in the last six games between these teams when played in Cleveland, and the Lakers are 1-4 against the spread in the last 5 in this series overall.

Both teams are reasonably healthy with Lakers C Kwame Brown listed as day to day with a knee injury and Cleveland F Donyell Marshall out until mid January with a wrist as the main health concerns.

This game features two of the leagues most dynamic talents in Bryant and James. Both lead their respective teams in points scored, assists, steals, and minutes per game and they both probably drive the team bus. Any early foul trouble or ineffectiveness for either could swing the pendulum in this contest.

L.A. is shooting 46.9% from the field, the fifth best mark in the league, while the Cavs are 22nd at 43.8% made. Cleveland has a slight edge from behind the arc converting on 36.4% of attempts to the Lakers 35.7%. Andrew Bynum has taken a huge step forward this year to lead the Lakers in rebounding at 10.0 boards a game contributing to L.A.s league leading 45.2 team rpg. Cleveland is not bad on the glass itself; ranking 11th in the league with 43 boards a game.

According to usatoday.com, the Sagarin rating for the Lakers has them 6th at 94.98, with the Cavaliers 19th at 87.75.

East versus West, Kobe versus LeBron, which superstar will keep the wheels on the bus goin round and round to a win tonight?

Matt’s Pick: I think the Lakers get the money tonight.