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Three Things to Know: Lakers vs. Cavaliers 4-6-24



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After going 5-1 on their six-game street journey, the Lakers (44-33) are again residence and can face off in opposition to the Cavaliers (46-31) for the ultimate time this season on Saturday afternoon. The sport is an early 12:30 p.m. PT tip on Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum SportsNet+.

Beneath are three issues to know forward of the matchup.

Winners of eight of their final 10, the Lakers have been doing their half to attempt to transfer up within the standings however not one of the groups forward of them have been cooperating within the ultra-competitive west. That, nevertheless, has begun to vary with each the Pelicans (4 straight) and the Kings (two straight) on shedding streaks whereas coping with accidents to key gamers.

With each groups shedding on Friday, the Lakers at the moment are in a tie with the Kings (who’re in eighth as a consequence of them proudly owning the tiebreaker) and only a sport behind the Seventh-seeded Pelicans. And with each groups off on Saturday, a Lakers win over Cleveland may propel them into eighth over the Kings whereas bringing them to inside a half-game of New Orleans.

Extra essential than that, nevertheless, is the truth that the Lakers now management their very own future to cross the Pelicans. Since they play New Orleans on the ultimate day of the regualr season, if the Lakers win out, they’re assured at hand the Pelicans not less than another loss, which might not solely assure not less than a tie within the standings however the tiebreaker to maneuver previous them ought to it happen.

Issues will not be as easy in opposition to Sacramento for the reason that Lakers would wish to complete with another win than them as a result of tiebreaker. That mentioned, each the Pelicans and the Kings nonetheless play one another and have some difficult video games remaining on their schedule (simply because the Lakers do), which may place the Lakers to cross them if issues break a sure method.

Beneath are the ultimate 5 video games for every crew:

  • Lakers: vs. Cavaliers, vs. Timberwolves, vs. Warriors, at Grizzlies, at Pelicans
  • Kings: at Nets, at Thunder, vs. Pelicans, vs. Suns, vs. Path Blazers
  • Pelicans: at Suns, at Blazers, at Kings, at Warriors, vs. Lakers

In fact, no matter what these different groups do, the Lakers should deal with themselves and take one sport at a time to regulate what they’ll management — an concept they’ve preached since earlier than their street journey began. And an concept that’s much more true now, particularly since they’ll guarantee they transfer up within the standings by dealing with their very own enterprise.

The NBA season is a marathon, however this closing stretch of the season can typically really feel like a dash, notably for a Lakers crew that simply zigzagged throughout North American on a six-game street journey solely to leap proper again into sport motion what can really feel like not a whole lot of time to get better after returning residence.

As a result of whereas the Lakers did get two full days off after finishing their street journey on Wednesday evening, enjoying their first sport after returning at 12:30 p.m. on that third day does minimize into their typical restoration time. After the Lakers returned from their final six-game street journey in early February, their first sport was additionally on the third day again, however was a 7:00 p.m. begin time for that first residence sport, giving them that additional few hours to settle into a traditional routine and all the advantages that include that.

Past the early begin on Saturday, the Lakers soar into sport motion on Sunday for a back-to-back in opposition to Minnesota, after which after in the future off will play their third sport in 4 days once they face Golden State on Tuesday. That stretch will find yourself being the Lakers ninth consecutive sport that was a part of a three-game in four-nights stretch, which, whereas not remarkable, is uncommon and will definitely take a look at them mentally and bodily — particularly when factoring within the stakes these video games carry as a consequence of their standings implications.

In saying that, the is not any room for excuses or self-pity in relation to these kinds of issues. The schedule shouldn’t be beneficiant, however because the crew ramps up for what they hope might be one other prolonged postseason run, these are the sorts of video games and circumstances that may metal them for what they need to accomplish.

Whereas Cleveland finds themselves in an analogous standings combat because the Lakers as they attempt to safe a top-three seed within the east, they don’t come into Saturday’s sport enjoying in addition to they had been earlier within the yr of their race as much as the spot they’re now working to safe.

The Cavs are simply 4-6 of their final 10 video games and after profitable 19 of 20 from January third by way of February tenth, they’re simply 11-15 in 26 video games since that streak and haven’t received greater than two video games in a row. A lot of those struggles have coincided with damage challenges, particularly to Donovan Mitchell who has handled a knee concern in addition to a damaged nostril.

Mitchell has performed in three of the Cavs’ final 4 video games, however his offensive effectivity has not been at his regular degree — particularly from behind the arc. The Cavs misplaced two of these three video games, with each losses coming in blowout style to the Nuggets and the Suns.

Regardless of these outcomes, the Cavs should be taken critically and will on no account be ignored. Regardless that Mitchell is working his method again into kind, he is too good a participant to be discounted, and the crew nonetheless has a whole lot of expertise in each their beginning lineup with Darius Garland, Max Strus, Jarrett Allen, and Evan Mobley in addition to their reserve core with Caris LeVert, Georges Niang, and Sam Merrill. It is a crew that may defend the paint and get sizzling from behind the arc, giving groups suits on each ends of the ground once they’re enjoying nicely.

For the Lakers, then, this can be a sport that can require them to deliver a spotlight and degree of play that exceeds what was required to shut out their street journey in opposition to groups that had been to not the caliber of this Cleveland group. They’ll must be sharp on each ends of the ground, and never mistake the Cavs’ current struggles with them being a foul crew.

That mentioned, the Lakers have been superb at recognizing what is required every sport and bringing the requisite urgency in every matchup to shut out this season. Try this once more on this sport and they’ll put themselves in good place to maintain their momentum going.

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