The Los Angeles Clippers are fighting for their playoff lives, sitting in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference entering play Friday night.
At 34-29, Los Angeles is one of eight teams in the West separated by only four games and vying for one of six playoff spots behind conference-leading Houston (51-13) and Golden State (51-14).
While the Clippers have won six of their last 10 games, they realize the challenge they are facing tonight.
Namely, attempting to deal with LeBron James, who will lead the Cleveland Cavaliers (38-26) at Staples Center.
Lou Williams, the Clippers’ high-octane scorer off the bench, was asked after practice Thursday what are the biggest challenges a LeBron-led team presents?
“LeBron?” Williams asked. “We still talking about LeBron at this point? Man, he’s the greatest player on Earth. That’s the challenge, that’s it.”
While the new-look Cavaliers have played with more energy, aggression and pace since adding The New 4 of George Hill, Larry Nance Jr., Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson in a huge roster makeover on deadline day (Feb. 8), Williams said it all starts with trying to contain James.
James scored Cleveland’s final nine points, finishing with 39, along with eight rebounds and 10 assists, in leading it to a win at Denver on Monday night.
“You’ve got to focus on the head of the snake,” Williams said. “You understand LeBron is that, and if you do the best job you can on LeBron, I think you always give yourself an opportunity to win a game against any team that he has.”
Cleveland won the first meeting between the two teams this season, needing overtime to extract a 118-113 triumph back on Nov. 17 at Quicken Loans Arena.
James, of course, led the way that night, posting 39 points, six rebounds and 14 assists in 46 minutes.