Lakers vs. Cleveland: What to watch

Honestly? Nothing.

As far as this game goes, breaking down the matchups is a laughably pointless exercise. The Cavs have won twice since November 27, and just barely avoided the longest losing streak in professional sports history. Their best players are either Antawn Jamison (a great guy, but past his prime and a defensive sieve) or Mo Williams (my vote for the most egregious All-Star since Jamal Magloire). From there, it's a bunch of unremarkable role players and somebody named "Samardo."

Plus, the Lakers beat them by a double freakin' nickel in January.

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If the Lakers lost this game, you better believe Carmelo's name will pop up again. And again. And again. And...

Given these circumstances, the only thing worth discussing would be a Laker loss. Is this scenario the equivalent of the earth spinning backwards? Without question. But considering the uneasiness swirling in the wake of double digit losses in Orlando and Charlotte, I guarantee the thought has crossed the mind of Joe P. Lakerfan. (The "P" stands for "pessimistic.") Thus, I'll play along and lay out of a few things to watch for should the logically impossible happen.

Trade chatter in overdrive

This recurring talking point died after two wins in Boston and New York, but as Tuesday's chat transcript demonstrates, all it takes is two bad losses for a purple and gold world to turn 180 degrees. A loss to Cleveland, however, will result in nothing short of Armageddon. It will be every man for themselves. Women and children won't be spared, much less the Laker roster.

Forget the typical Bynum for Carmelo/Ron Artest for Jax or Gerald Wallace/Luke Walton for any breathing player and/or a set of steak knives cries. Change will be demanded, along with heads rolling. Everybody would be deemed expendable save perhaps Kobe Bryant -- although I wouldn't bet my life a handful of fans wouldn't suggest blowing everything up and starting over young. ESPN's Trade Machine will go crazy like WOPR at the end of War Games.

For a team that's already expressed disdain for a hysterical rumor mill, even flirting with a loss would be a dangerous game. As War Games' militaristic computer said about thermonuclear war, the only winning move is not to play.

Lineup switch talk

Because variety is the spice of life, people will take a break from talking about trades to talk about switches made in the starting lineup.

Steve Blake replacing Derek Fisher, since Fish can't shoot.

Shannon Brown replacing Fisher, because Fish and Blake can't shoot.

Lamar Odom replacing Fisher, because Fish, Blake and Brown can't shoot.

Odom replacing Ron Artest, because Ron can't shoot but won't stop.

Odom replacing Bynum, because Phil Jackson never plays Drew in the fourth quarter (and Drew will eventually be traded for 'Melo, anyway).

How about sliding Pau Gasol to center and taking a flyer on Joe Smith at the four? He was the number pick of the '95 draft, after all.

Frankly, we heard plenty of these conversations even when the team looks fantastic. I don't even wanna ponder the non-stop tedium sparked by the Hindenburg of losses.

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This cat should be the talk of the weekend, not the Lakers' woes.

A local All-Star Weekend ruined

It's bad enough three days that should be about nothing but fun, open bars and Blake Griffin dunks will inevitably get bogged down by CBA talks and... of course... 'Melo. Shouldn't the two-time defending champs (in their own town, no less) escape 72 hours worth of "what's wrong?" questions? Don't Kobe, Pau and whichever Lakers inevitably pop by the festivities deserve a better weekend?

Not if they head into the break with an L.


I wouldn't go outside for a few days.