We are going to need some big performances from Cook, Slava, Walton, and Sampson...because they all will see big minutes, but they will primarily be at the center and power forwards positions.
Payton/Ollie & Wagner:
Any other night of the year, this would be one of Payton's easiest matchups, but he has a bad sinus infection and according to Phil he doesn't look good, but will play. Payton is going to be playing sick so that gives a slight edge to the Cavs' pg's since they will be playing at 100%. Hopefully Payton can still give us a decent game, he will probably be more passive tonight. Look for Fisher to get a good chunk of minutes, hopefully he can continue to climb out of his slump and give us a big game off the bench against these 2. These 2 Cavs' guards only produce a combined average of 8 points a game, so we won't have to focus a lot of energy on playing perfect defense on them, light D should do the trick. And I don't see Ollie or Wagner being able to stop GP or Fisher, they aren't very good defenders.
This is the matchup everyone cares about. This is the sole reason this game is on tv, because everyone wants to see Kobe vs Lebron, and due to injuries and sickness, this has the setting for a great duel. Possibly on of those great games you hear about, or that you see every so often on ESPN Classics. Look for both guys to go into this game looking to dominate and win. This will be a shootout, a memorable one too, probably more memorable than the T-Mac vs LJ game on Christmas. Kobe has to come out running. HE has to be the go to guy, he has to get other guys the open looks (like he did vs. the Hawks), he needs to have a big offensive night for us to pull away with a win. He has to play great defense too, or else we will see a lot of Lebron shooting and making great plays. All I know is I am glad I get to see this one, Kobe vs Lebron, part I. Their first meeting, and both will play at 110% tonight.
George/Williams & Miles:
George did play a little better against the Hawks but not much, he needs to step it up. Williams isn't all that big, so he should be able to take advantage of the size difference and get position in the paint and get us some rebounds, something we will need tonight. If Miles plays, he is a bit longer and may make George have some problems getting shots up. Miles and Williams can score, so George will need to stay with them and not let them get open shots or easy drives to the basket. George needs to try to make his open shots, grab rebounds, and create for himself (that should be his 3 part plan for tonight's game).
Our frontcourt did a good job against the Hawks, and their big men are better than the Cavs' big men, so hopefully we can expect the same type of results. Slava needs to crash the boards and prevent Boozer from getting the easy rebounds. Slava needs to be as aggressive on the offensive end as he was against the Hawks, he knocked down a lot of shots and was a big boost for us. Slava needs to play some good defense against Boozer, so he won't get any easy basket opportunities.
Grant & Sampson/Ilgauskas: Grant has a lot of things going on right now, I doubt his game will be much in the game. Hopefully he can give us 20-25 minutes of good play. He needs to get us some rebounds and limit Ilgauskas' production.
Also, this is where we get to see what our young center is made out of. Sampson did a good job in his last outing, by getting rebounds, playing some defense, and providing us with a youthful inside presence. He will probably get dominated by the much larger Ilgauskas, but who knows we might be pleasantly surprised like we have been all year with our young'ins. Sampson won't score many points for us, 4 or 6 points, but his rebounding and defense will be key tonight, and could very well determine or factor in his future as a Laker (when we get everyone healthy and back).
The text in red
is only applicable if Grant plays, right now it's uncertain