On the surface, could two teams be headed in any more opposite directions than the L.A. Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers?
When the two franchises meet at Quicken Loans Arena on Sunday with average Cavs vs. Lakers tickets on Barry’s averaging $140 and a get-in of $55, the surging Cavs will be in the midst of a season long 12 game winning streak while the suddenly rudderless Lakers will be seeking to snap out of the doldrums of a streak of 11 losses in 12 games.
To say LeBron James has made all the difference for his hometown Cavaliers would be an understatement along the lines of the saying Lakers have struggled just a bit without Kobe Bryant.
The four-time league MVP has averaged 28 points, seven assists and six rebounds over his last 10 games, including at least 32 point outburst over his last six. In All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, James has is quickly developing a lasting chemistry to a player who now ranks as one of the league’s top second options.
The 22-year Irving has nearly matched James basket for basket over the Cavs’ hot streak, averaging 26.2 points, 5.5 assists and 3.6 rebounds over his last 10 games.
While James and Irving have combined to average around 54 points over the last 10 games, the Lakers offense seemingly hasn’t scored that many in a single-game since Bryant went down with a torn rotator cuff.
And the hits keep on coming, earlier this week the team announced veteran forward Jordan Hill miss at least two weeks with a hip injury. Currently, Nick Young reigns as the team’s highest active scorer at 14 points, while Carlos Boozer averages 12 and Jeremy Lin 10.
All the mediocrity has led to first-year coach Byron Scott tinkering with his lineup on what seems a nightly basis. During one recent stretch of games, Lin went from playing 15 minutes a night to 30, to a DNP-CD, back to almost 30.
It’s all meant for even more grumbling from players on a team that already clearly lacks harmony.
“I guess you just control what you can control,” Lin recently told reporters. “I mean, the only thing you can get used to is you don’t know what’s coming next. And that’s kinda been true this whole season.”
The Cavs knocked off the Lakers back in January 109-102 behind James 36 points and five assists and Irving’s 22 points.