Lakers Vs. Cavaliers Preview: LeBron James Returns To Cleveland Looking To Remain Undefeated On Road Trip
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are facing a tough challenge on Tuesday, matching up with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are third in the Eastern Conference.

Wenyen Gabriel is miss ing the clash due to leg shoulder soreness while Ricky Rubio and Dean Wade are inactive on the Cavaliers’ side. But Jarrett Allen makes his return from a five-game break that was caused by a back issue.

Allen’s return means L.A. faces the strongest starting 5 of the highest-ranked NBA defense. Cleveland gives up the fewest points (105) and rebounds (39.9) per game in 2022-23 — while also limiting opponents to just 38.4 field goals made, also a top mark.

Allen and Evan Mobley have been the main architects of the Cavaliers’ stellar defense. But on Tuesday, they go up against Anthony Davis and LeBron James in the frontcourt — which should make for a fascinating personal matchup.

Always extra motivated on his old stomping ground, James scored 38 and 46 points in his last two returns to Cleveland, an ominous sign for the hosts. Meanwhile, Davis has been the best player in the NBA over the last couple of weeks, averaging 35.3 points, 15.6 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 2.9 blocks in his previous nine games.

Besides the battle on the glass, an aggressive defense could be key to the win for the Lakers. Donovan Mitchell has been thriving offensively since moving to Cleveland, putting up 28.4 points per game. But the Cavaliers’ offense as a whole is still coming together following Mitchell’s addition as they commit 19th-most turnovers and attempt shots at a bottom-10 rate.

The Purple and Gold are taking on a mighty opponent on Tuesday. But if they maintain the level of play that has allowed them to win eight of their last 10 games, they might prove unstoppable once again — regardless of who stands in their way.

Los Angeles Lakers (10-12) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (15-9)

4:30 p.m. PT, December 6, 2022
Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, Cleveland, OH
TV: TNT, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Patrick Beverley
SF: Lonnie Walker IV
PF: LeBron James
C: Anthony Davis

Key Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Austin Reaves, Troy Brown Jr., Kendrick Nunn, Thomas Bryant

Projected Cavaliers Starting Lineup:

PG: Darius Garland
SG: Donovan Mitchell
SF: Lamar Stevens
PF: Evan Mobley
C: Jarrett Allen

Key Reserves: Kevin Love, Cedi Osman, Caris LeVert, Isaac Okoro

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