(Photo By: David Liam Kyle/Getty Images)
Lakers vs. Cavaliers: 3 Things to Know (3/11/18)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers host the Cleveland Cavaliers.
1) Lopez is playing his best ball of the year
In back-to-back games, Brook Lopez has punished opponents out of the post, dropping 27 points on Orlando Wednesday before piling up 29 more in Denver Friday.
Primarily used as a 3-point shooter for most of the season, Lopez has been fed the ball down low, given that he has had favorable matchups over the past two games.
Lopez has hit two-thirds of his shots during this stretch, going 12-of-18 in both games. It has been a model of volume and efficiency for a player who was among the NBA’s top three in post-up scoring last season.
Lopez’s success has come from his blend of craft and power. He has spent the last 10 years honing his post moves in the NBA, and, as a 7-footer, is able to impose his will on certain opponents.
Former Laker Larry Nance Jr. has been starting at center for the Cavaliers lately, and he gives up three inches in the matchup against Lopez. Look for whether Lakers set up Lopez to go to work against the small-ball five.
Brook Lopez finishes with a game-high 29 points, his second straight game with 27+ points pic.twitter.com/aUS1oyzbk2— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 10, 2018
2) KCP has been Mr. Reliable
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has found his groove post-All-Star Break.
In this eight-game stretch, the starting shooting guard has averaged 17.3 points while shooting 51.6 percent from the field and 53.8 percent on 3-pointers.
During this span, he is averaging a whopping 3.5 3-pointers per game — fifth-highest in the NBA since the break.
KCP has been one of the Lakers’ most important perimeter threats all season long. He has averaged 1.14 points per possession on spot-up attempts, which places him in the league’s 82nd percentile.
He has found a lot of those opportunities since the break, hanging out at the arc while players like Isaiah Thomas and Lonzo Ball drive and kick.
What’s been different lately has been his penchant for hitting the glass. With Josh Hart out, Caldwell-Pope has taken over duties as the Lakers’ primary rebounding guard, averaging 8.0 boards post-All-Star.
3) Cavs are a new-look squad
This Cleveland team has a whole different complexion than the one that beat the Lakers in December.
Much of that has to do with the addition of two former Lakers: Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson.
Acquired in the trade that netted the Lakers Isaiah Thomas, Nance has been a revelation in three games as the Cavs’ starting center. He has averaged 17.0 points and 13.3 rebounds during this stretch, and has been excellent running pick-and-rolls and shooting from mid-range since joining Cleveland.
Clarkson, meanwhile, has provided his trademark scoring off the bench, dropping 21 points in his previous game against the LA Clippers.
The Cavs may be ailing, with Kevin Love and Rodney Hood among the injured, but they also have the most dangerous player in the game.
At 33 years old, LeBron James continues to assert his dominance on the rest of the lead, ranking fourth in the NBA in scoring and second in assists.
He has taken his game to an even higher level over his last 10 games, averaging 30.1 points, 10.0 rebounds and 9.3 assists.
The Lakers need no reminder of his all-around game, as he dropped a triple-double in his last matchup with the purple and gold.
Lakers: Brandon Ingram (left groin strain), Josh Hart (left hand fourth metacarpal fracture) and Channing Frye (appendectomy) are out.
Cavaliers: Kevin Love (left hand fracture), Rodney Hood (low back strain), Tristan Thompson (right ankle sprain) and Cedi Osman (left hip strain) are out.
Tip-Off: 6 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes in L.A. ESPN nationally
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: White Association
Location: Staples Center — Los Angeles, California