Game: Cavs vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Broadcast: TV: TNT Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM).
Starters: Cavs: LeBron James (F); J.J. Hickson(F); Shaquille O'Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Delonte West (G). Lakers: Ron Artest (F), Pau Gasol (F/C); Andrew Bynum (C); Kobe Bryant (G); Derek Fisher (G).
Injured: Cavs: Mo Williams (sprained left shoulder); Leon Powe (left knee surgery); Jamario Moon (abdominal strain) - OUT. Lakers: Kobe Bryant (back spasms, avulsion fracture, right index finger); Sasha Vujacic (strained right hamstring); Luke Walton (pinched nerve, back) - PROBABLE.
Officials: Joe DeRosa, Sean Wright, Gary Zielinski.
In a nutshell:
Mo Williams' injury makes this game a horse of a different color. Out with a shoulder sprain, Delonte West will start. The Cavs will miss Williams' ability to hit that outside shot and playoff of LeBron James. He was well on his way to having one of the best seasons of his career. He gets the Cavs in their offense, can drive and kick when needed to and his defense is adequate. He scored 28 against L.A. in the first game.
The Cavs will have to rely on Delonte West. Last year that may not have been a problem. This season? Tonight will tell the tale. There have been encouraging signs - things that people outside of the locker room, shootaround and the halls of Quicken Loans Arena can't see - that West is moving toward the center with respect to his issues. That's a good thing. There's little doubt he posseses the tools to excel in Williams absence. He can drive, shoot, hit the three, but he is a tenacious defender. Look for Daniel Gibson to back West up and get significant playing time.
Look for the Lakers to play a more physical brand of hoops tonight. Kobe Bryant said after shootaround today that the Lakers were basically pushed around by the Cavs during their Christmas Day game. Indeed, the Cavs got Andrew Bynum into early foul trouble and roughed up Pau Gasol well. Look for more of Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shaquille O'Neal on the floor together tonight to tryduplicate that. How the Lakers respond will dictate how this game goes.