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NBA: LA Lakers @ Cleveland Cavaliers preview

LeBron James returns to Ohio as the Los Angeles Lakers aim to continue their excellent form against the high-flying Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavs find themselves up to third in the Eastern Conference as they look to finally record postseason success without their hometown hero.

Meanwhile, the Lakers are resurgent and they’ve put themselves back into postseason contention, as well as potentially green-lighting some big trades to boost their prospects for this season.

What: Los Angeles Lakers @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Where: Smoothie Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Cleveland, Ohio
When: 00:30, Wednesday 7th December
How to watch: bet365 Sports Live Streaming
Odds: LA Lakers 6/4, CLE Cavaliers 10/17

Another monster night for AD

While the off-court focus here is LeBron’s return to Cleveland, the Cavs need to keep their eye on one man above all others - Anthony Davis. The Lakers’ big man is in fantastic shape right now and he’s tearing through opposition defences.

Davis posted 55 points in the Lakers’ 130-119 win at the Washington Wizards at the weekend. He also had 17 rebounds and three steals in that victory as he pushed them to yet another win. The Lakers now have an 8-2 record across their last 10 games, with AD playing in nine and posting some huge numbers in that run.

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Davis has scored at least 25 points per night in that run, with six 30+ point games. He’s scored a combined 99 points across the last two games, which includes a 133-129 win away to the Milwaukee Bucks.

With the news that the Cavs’ star defender Jarrett Allen is questionable for this clash, it’s hard to see how Cleveland can look to stop AD right now. He’s priced at 20/23 to record over 28 points and he’s expected to have another big night.

Up and down season for Cavs

Few expected the Cavs to make the start they did, having pushed on from a strong campaign last season to chase after the top sides in the league. However, Cleveland continue to struggle for consistency despite impressing in the early stages of this season.

The Cavs have had a truly up-and-down year, having followed up an eight-game winning streak with a five-game losing streak. Their big runs of form look to be over for the time being, but they’ve got a 3-3 record across the last six games and they will struggle to keep pace with the top two at that rate.

The Cavs have already had issues with sides from the Western Conference this season, with a 2-4 record against them. They had a difficult road trip to the west coast earlier in the campaign, although that started with a 114-100 win at the Lakers.

However, this Lakers side they face have really turned a corner and, considering the form they’ve built up for this eastern trip, the Cavs should be concerned.

Lakers stepping up

While the Lakers are getting the most out of AD at long last, they have also improved their defensive rating significantly. They are conceding 111 points per 100 possessions, which marks them out as the 11th-best defence in the league.

That’s stepped up following their terrible 2-10 start, while this trip pits them against a Cavs side that have recently been held under 90 points against the Toronto Raptors and New York Knicks. That should bode well for the visitors, especially as they’re likely to get much more joy going forward should Allen miss out.

The Lakers make this trip as underdogs, they’re 20/21 with a +4 point start on the spread. However, everything heading into this clash points to them keeping it close, especially when you have a player like AD at the peak of his powers.

The Cavs rank 18th in the league for points per game – matching the Lakers' defensive rating at 111 points a night. Given that and considering that Allen is unlikely to be 100% if he features, then the Lakers should continue the high-scoring form they’ve produced of late. Over 224.5 points is 10/11 here and that number has been cleared in each of the Lakers’ last five matches.

Only one side in the league can boast a better winning streak than the Lakers, while their 8-2 record across their last 10 is the joint-best in the NBA, level with the Boston Celtics and New Orleans Pelicans. Those are two of the NBA’s top four teams right now, so the visitors are playing at a level even above the high-flying Cavs. At 6/4, they are good value for another victory.

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