Coachís Corner: Don Casey on Cavs at Lakers
By Don Casey (As told to John Hareas)
The LeBron-Kobe matchup will be a very interesting, high-scoring event between both of them. Since Kobeís impressive scoring streak, heís brought a little bit more buzz and pizzazz to Lakers basketball, which had been lying dormant for awhile. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers embark on an important six-game road trip that will reveal how well they can adjust without Larry Hughes. After the Lakers, the Cavs will visit the Suns, Blazers, Nuggets, Warriors and Jazz. At 20-12, itís important that the Cavs donít take a step back on this trip. The way they looked against the Knicks on Wednesday, Iím not sure that they wonít.
CLEVELAND'S KEYS TO THE GAME
The Cavs need to shore up their perimeter defense and fast. The other night against the Knicks, Jamal Crawford was going to the hoop at will against Jones. If they donít improve in this area, theyíre going to lose a lot of games on this road trip.
L.A.'S KEYS TO THE GAME
Kobe is scoring a lot yet it doesnít seem that he is going about it in a selfish way and scoring all of these points at his teamís expense. His points seem to be flowing with what the Lakers are doing and he hasnít had to force his shots because theyíre running the offense more effectively. I think Kobe has more 40 point games in him than people think. I like Chris Mihm, I think he has very good upside and Brian Cook is playing very well and is a threat. It seems that Lamar Odom is getting closer to the basket and is taking those type of shots while getting to the line more, which has contributed to bringing his average up. Look for Kobe and Odom to take it to the hole and challenge Drew Gooden and Zydrunas Ilgauskas with the hopes of getting them in foul trouble. The Cavs look to them for blocked shots, which theyíre pretty good at but it has also led to foul trouble and if those two are in foul trouble, who are they going to go to?
The Cavs need to start their road trip on a winning note because their next game doesnít get any easier at Phoenix. Players such as Snow and Jones need to step up and since Hughes isnít coming back any time soon, the Cavs need to find a way to finish better and do a better job holding leads. The Lakers have 10 of their next 13 on the road and at 18-16 they certainly donít want to fall behind .500. Tonightís game will be a highlight show featuring two of the gameís more exciting players in LeBron and Kobe.
-- Don Casey appears courtesy of the National Basketball Coaches Association