Larry Ness: Kings vs. Cavaliers Free Pick 01/25/17 – NBA Predictions
The Cavs still own the East's best record at 30-13 and remain huge favorites to return to the NBA Finals, despite losing FIVE of their last seven games.
By Larry Ness
LBJ has recently put the entire Cleveland Cavaliers’ organization on notice. “We’re not better than last year, from a personnel standpoint … we’re a top-heavy team,” James told reporters following Monday’s loss at the New Orleans Pelicans. “I just hope that we’re not satisfied as an organization. How hard it was to do that (expletive). I just hope we’re not satisfied.”
The Kings may be just 17-27 but they’re still lingering on the cusp of playoff contention in the West (two games out of the final spot). Sacramento received 52 points from the bench in the win over Detroit, with PG Ty Lawson (9.0-4.3 APG) being of the bunch by matching his season high of 19 points while also contributing six assists. Second-year center Willie Cauley-Stein (4.4-2.2) scored a season-high 12 points in the win against the Pistons and is starting to show improved ball-handling and scoring abilities.
Sacramento typically counts on star center DeMarcus Cousins (28.0-10.2) and he recorded 22 points and 14 rebounds in the win, for his fifth consecutive double-double and eighth in nine games.
LBJ is right to raise concern. Cleveland lost in overtime at home to the San Antonio Spurs, who played without two starters, including Gasol. Then the Cavaliers fell behind to the Pelicans on the road without Anthony Davis, as Cleveland trailed by 22 before Irving (49 points!) shot the team back in the game in the third quarter. However, the Cavaliers still lost.
Both LBJ and Irving have played more than 40 minutes in each of the last two losses, with LBJ playing 44 of 48 minutes against the Pelicans. He leads the league in minutes played at more than 37 per game and it’s the most minutes he has played since returning to Cleveland.
Head coach Tyronn Lue acknowledged he played James and Irving too many minutes against the Pelicans, and as a result had to cancel practice Tuesday and Wednesday’s morning shoot-around.
Expect the Cavs to bounce back here against the Kings, who limp in having won just TWICE in their last 10, with BOTH wins coming over the Pistons (home & away). This marks the team’s fourth game (in six nights) of an eight-game road trip and the Cavaliers won the past four meetings, including that 120-108 road victory back on Jan 13.
Regarding LBJ’s comments, head coach Lue responded, “I know what I’m doing, and we’re going to be fine. know what I’m doing. I’m not going to change or not have confidence in what I can do.” Lay the points with the Cavs.