Preview: Lakers at Cavaliers
The response shouldn’t be as vicious as the last time he returned to Cleveland after leaving the Cavaliers, but LeBron James isn’t thinking too hard about it. James will make his return on Wednesday, when the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Cavaliers.
James led the Lakers to wins in seven of the last nine games, including a 113-97 triumph in the first half of his homecoming at Miami on Sunday. “I will think about some of the good, I will think about some of the bad, I will think about some of the great that I had with the franchise obviously and then once the tip ball gets going, it is time to go to work,” James told reporters of his trip to Cleveland, where he helped the franchise win its first championship in 2016. “It will be good to see some of my family that will come to the game, see some of my friends as well and get the thing going.” The Cavaliers look nothing like the four-time Eastern Conference championship squad that James left and owns the worst record in the NBA at 2-13. Cleveland appears to be making a turn toward rebuilding as the veterans find their way to the end of the bench or off the roster.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet (Los Angeles), FS Ohio (Cleveland)
ABOUT THE LAKERS (9-7): James scored 51 points in his return to Miami and is second in the NBA in scoring at an average of 28.8 points. “I’ve played for three very, very historic franchises in the time that I played,” James said. “Obviously, in Miami we did some historical things. In Cleveland we was able to do some historical (things). And obviously the Lakers (name) speaks for itself, what they’ve been able to do. And so, my teammates, my coaching staff, they just put that trust in me to go out and make plays, and I just try to be as efficient as possible when I’m on the floor and make things happen.” James became the fifth player in NBA history to score 50 or more points with three different franchises, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Moses Malone, Bernard King and Jamal Crawford.
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (2-13): Shooting guard JR Smith, 33, was a big part of that 2016 championship team with James but is not with Cleveland as it attempts to trade the disgruntled veteran. “I don’t think the goal is to win. The goal isn’t to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can,” Smith told The Athletic on Monday. “I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan.” All-Star forward Kevin Love is not going to appear in a Cavaliers uniform any time soon as well and expects to be out until the new year after undergoing toe surgery.
1. Cavaliers rookie PG Collin Sexton is averaging 18.6 points over the last five games but left Monday’s loss with a hip injury and is day-to-day.
2. Lakers SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is 9-of-18 from 3-point range over the last four games.
3. Los Angeles snapped a seven-game losing streak in the series with a 127-113 victory on March 11 despite 24 points and 10 rebounds from Cleveland’s James.