3 Things to Know Lakers at Cavaliers 11-25-23

Three Things to Know: Lakers at Cavaliers, 11-25-23

The Lakers (9-7) are back on the road for a four-game trip and will kick things off in Cleveland with a matchup against the Cavaliers (8-7) on Saturday. The game tips off at 4:30 p.m. Pacific on Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum SportsNet+.

Below are three things to know ahead of the matchup:

RUI OUT
The injury bug has not been kind to the Lakers this season and they got another dose of bad news on Friday when the team announced that Rui Hachimura is going to miss some time after suffering a nasal fracture against the Mavericks on Wednesday.

Rui joins Gabe Vincent (left knee effusion), Jarred Vanderbilt (left heel bursitis), and Cam Reddish (left adductor soreness) on the injury report and will be sorely missed due to his combination of size, athleticism, and all-purpose offensive game.

On a more positive note, reinforcements could be coming soon. Coach Ham noted that Reddish's MRI was clean and that he is day-to-day. Vanderbilt is also getting closer to a return as he continues his ramp up towards making his regular season debut.

Without Rui available, and until Vanderbilt is ready for game action, the Lakers can lean into bigger lineups, with both Christian Wood and Jaxson Hayes being potential options to see an uptick in minutes to help fortify the front court. Both have shown an ability to play on the perimeter defensively, while, between them, offering varying skill sets offensively that not only mix well into different types of lineups, but help in similar ways that Hachimura has been on that end of the floor.

LAKERS DEFENSE CLIMBING
Though the Lakers are still looking at ways to make meaningful strides on the offensive side of the floor, their defense has been setting the tone for the team and has helped them stabilize both in games and in the standings. After starting the season somewhat slowly on defense, the team has now moved up into the top-10 on that side of the ball, ranking 9th in the NBA through 16 games.

That sample size gives the team a great dividing point to look at the numbers too, not just because it is easily dividable, but because it was after eight games that the Lakers made a change to their starting lineup by swapping out Austin Reaves for the defensive minded Cam Reddish. And, for the Lakers, this change is proving impactful:

  • Games 1-8: 19th in Defensive Rating (113.8), 20th in defensive rebounding rate (70.4%)
  • Games 9-16: 4th in Defensive Rating (107.9), 11th in defensive rebounding rate (72.1%)

There can be a lot of noise in early season numbers, but the fact that the Lakers have turned things around to this degree is notable and matches the eye test. The new starting lineup has offered more balance defensively, slotting both Reddish and Taurean Prince into shared primary perimeter defensive roles while being backed up by Anthony Davis who has been his typical masterful self, protecting the paint by altering and swatting shots away.

Reddish, in particular, has been a disruptive force since the change, leading the league in total steals (24) and deflections (43) in the month of November, while generally taking the primary offensive and/or ball handling wing of the opponent. With Reddish and fellow defensive disruptor Jarred Vanderbilt both hopefully returning the soon, the Lakers will look to make even more headway on that side of the floor.

Cam Reddish's Pressure Defense

LEBRON IN CLEVELAND
LeBron will always be remembered as a Cavaliers legend for all he achieved during the 11 seasons across his two tenures with the organization. Add in the proximity to his hometown of Akron and the 2016 championship he won for the city in his 2nd stint with the franchise, and those positive feelings almost certainly flow from LeBron to Cleveland as well.

That said, when LeBron has had the opportunity to play in Cleveland as a visiting player, he's done his best to remind the organization and the fans of the player they twice got to call their own. As a player with the Heat and now with the Lakers, LeBron has played 10 games in Cleveland as a visitor and the stats are, as expected, fantastic for him and his team:

  • An 8-2 record with individual averages of 32.6 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 7.6 assists on 56.2% shooting

Further, LeBron has had some of his best single game performances in specific stats as a member of Lakers, scoring his most points (46 in January 2021), grabbing his most rebounds (17 in December 2022), and dishing his most assists (12 in March 2022) all while rocking the purple and gold.

As he makes another return to Cleveland in this game, he'll be looking to continue this success he's had and show the fans one more time that he's still that same kid from Akron.