The Cleveland Cavaliers have the Eastern Conference’s best record in large part due to their dominant play against the West. There’s no reason to believe that trend won’t continue this week.
Three struggling Western opponents await the Cavaliers on a road trip that begins Tuesday night at Staples Center, where they’ll find a Los Angeles Clippers team looking to avoid its fourth losing streak of at least six games.
Cleveland (49-13) has a stellar 30-9 record against the East, but it wouldn’t be on top of its own conference without the league’s best interconference record. The Cavaliers are 19-4 against the West, including nine road wins, the same amount they had away from home versus the West last season.
They figure to be in excellent position to surpass that total this week on a three-game trip that includes games against Phoenix, which has lost four in a row and is currently out of playoff position, and conference-worst Sacramento, which is 0-24 against the East.
The Cavaliers have beaten the Clippers (15-48) five straight times, and they’re headed West on a positive note.
A night after a discouraging loss in Boston in a battle of the East’s top two teams, Cleveland bounced back at home Saturday. Mo Williams had 29 points and LeBron James recorded his fourth triple-double of the season in a 99-89 win against Miami.
The Cavaliers are 12-1 following a loss.
“It’s something we’ve been able to do this year,” said James, who finished with 14 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. “It’s something we really haven’t been good at in the past, but we’ve been able to bounce back from certain losses and games where we thought we could play a lot better.”
James has struggled from the floor in his last two games, going 5-for-15 against both the Celtics and Heat, but Williams has picked up the scoring slack, averaging 27.5 points.
“Mo’s a great player,” James said of his All-Star teammate. “It’s no surprise to us what he can do out there. … It’s kind of fun to have a guy who we can give the ball to and he can make things happen.”
James is averaging 21.3 points on 38.3 percent shooting in 11 games against the Clippers for career lows against any one opponent, but he made half of his shots against them for the first time earlier this season. He had 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting to go with seven boards and six assists in a 112-95 win on Jan. 30.
That result came in the middle of a seven-game losing streak for Los Angeles, which has dropped at least six in a row three times this season.
The Clippers have lost five straight heading into Tuesday’s game, including their past four at home. The latest came Saturday, a 106-105 loss to Indiana after holding a 13-point halftime lead.
The Clippers did, however, get two key players back. Zach Randolph returned after being in Indianapolis following the death of his father, and rookie Eric Gordon came back after missing four games with a bruised left shoulder.
Randolph had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Gordon scored a game-high 35 points.
“I don’t like to miss too many games, so I was just really excited to get back and play,” said Gordon, who had 27 points in the January loss to Cleveland.
Davis and Camby are both listed as day-to-day.