Sunday NBA TV Odds: Cleveland Cavaliers at L.A. Lakers

Cleveland at L.A. Lakers
Time: 8:30 PM CT, NBA TV
Spread: LAL -10.5
Total: 220.5

Odds c/o 5dimes


The Cleveland Cavaliers have lost its last ten overall, and now it will be without Larry Nance for the next 2-3 weeks. Though Nance averages just eight points and seven boards, the Cavs are not resplendent in talent to replace his services, and his intangibles. Ultimately, the team is not winning anyway. But it just one more thing to go wrong in this rebuilding season that ultimately will see Cleveland likely finish with the worst mark in the Association.

The Cavs fans can turn their attention to a talented draft class, but as for this season, the theme will continue to be developing the existent young talents on this roster and trying to find a semblance of chemistry between rookie Collin Sexton and the several notable offensive talents the Cavs still possess. Kevin Love is still good for 19 points and 11 rebounds a game, but he is never going to be back to the level of production he showed in Minnesota before Joining LeBron James. Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood are both good scorers, but neither should be a team’s No. 2 and No. 3 options—not if the goal is winning basketball games. Sexton has been everything the Cavaliers hoped he would be, but he still is facing the typical issues of rookie point guards, which includes hardly getting any calls. Tristan Thompson is averaging a double-double, but it is clear he has capped his potential and is a role player at best. The Cavaliers will simply hope that a talent such as Zion Williamson can change its fate when it drafts in the summer. Because there is precious little to be gained from a season derailed by not only injuries but a sheer lack of talent with the subtraction of James, who simply made a lot of rag-tag performers play far above their usual levels. Remove the best player in the game, and this team is right where most figured it would be, in the cellar.


Without LeBron James available, much of the Lakers game plan and offensive focus has shifted to its other starting forward, Kyle Kuzma. He has delivered. Kuzma finished with 41 points on 16 of 24 shooting in L.A.’s 113-100 victory over the Detroit Pistons, and the second year man has been on a tear. Over his last 10 games, Kuzma is shooting 42.4 percent from the floor and averaging 20.4 points, 3.3 assists, and 5.9 rebounds per game, even though the Lakers have won just four of those contests. On the season, he is now averaging 18.8 points per game, but his shooting range and offensive skills have complemented James well.

Ideally, the thought could be that Kuzma really finds the “alpha” in him with James out and that the Lakers are better still when its star returns. Others have not stepped up. Brandon Ingram has lingered this season and shown few improvements. Josh Hart has mostly disappointed. Lonzo Ball has had his moments but continues to look like a poor shooter with too many noticeable flaws.

Perhaps outside of Kuzma and James, the brightest spot has been the play of center JaVale McGee. He has shined as a defensive anchor, and over his last 10 games is averaging 10 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. McGee has scored double-figures in three of his last five games, and against the New York Knicks on Jan 4 he had 18 points, nine rebounds and a block in 25 minutes. McGee has never played big minutes over his career because he suffers from exercise induced asthma, but he has thrived in the minutes he has played this season as a Laker. The Lakers have enough potential to make the postseason, but many will still flag that as a failed effort simply because James is on the roster.

Without LeBron available right now, we should begin to get an accurate gauge on what this roster is capable of aside from what James creates himself. There are some high end talents that have cost high lottery picks, but Ingram will never fulfill his comparison to Kevin Durant, because aside from being ultra-thin, he mostly lacks all the talent that has made Durant so transcendental. The Lakers’ best hopes reside in acquiring another major free agent this summer, along with the continued maturation and development of Kuzma. Kuzma hardly cost the lottery pick that other talents on the roster, but he has panned out to become the best pro thus far. Hart, Ingram and Ball? The jury remains out.

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