NBA Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers kick off crucial weekend with trip to face off with Charlotte Bobcats

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland heads south to take on a Charlotte team feeling pretty good about itself

The Charlotte Bobcats just finished the roughest patch of schedule they will have to deal with this season. Road losses to the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat, followed by a home win against the Indiana Pacers leaves the Bobcats in position to finish as the 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. They are unbeaten in their last five home games. They've been getting monster efforts from Al Jefferson.

This is a team that feels pretty good about itself. Let's see if Cleveland can hang in Charlotte.

Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (24-38) at Charlotte Bobcats (28-33)

When: 7:00 ET

Where: Time Warner Cable Arena

Where can I watch? Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass

Music?

The Cavaliers are seeing some progress that isn't quite translating to wins just yet. Not with the schedule turning tougher. This is okay. Unless your goal is the playoffs. Then it's not okay. Because even with the Atlanta Hawks in free-fall mode, the Cavaliers are still three and half games back. They play the Bobcats tonight, and the Knicks tomorrow night. It's not going to be easy to win both, but the team's thin playoff hopes could very well rely on both.

I wrote this week about how Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters have been playing pretty darn good of late. I found a problem today though. In Waiters' last 14 games where he has seen his efficiency tick up, the Cavaliers are outscored by 12.3 points per 100 possessions with both Waiters and Irving on the floor. Now, the sample size is less than 200 minutes. Brown is staggering their time together pretty well. But that's really kind of disheartening. The Cavaliers need them to be able to be alright together for Waiters to really have a place on the team.

Now, Russell Westrbook and James Harden saw their numbers dip when they played together. Miami staggers their lineups to separate Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Kyrie and Dion still haven't played much together. These things take time. But they clearly have a long ways to go.

The Bobcats defend, and it's pretty impressive to me. After getting offense first players like Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller in the offseason I didn't think they'd be able to play any defense at all. I'm wrong about a lot of things a lot of the time. Charlotte has the 6th best defensive efficiency in the NBA, and it's even better when Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is healthy. He's healthy right now.

Gerald Henderson is the guy who always destroys the Cavs and then I check out his numbers for the season and wonder how and why he does this to us. He really isn't that good. Kemba Walker is a good young point guard. I'm pretty curious to see how the Bobcats handle his extension talks this summer. UPDATE: Henderson is out.

The Bobcats are an intriguing young team a great low post scorer and some financial flexibility. Rich Cho and Michael Jordan have the team on the right track. They still are looking for a real star, but they should be competitive for the near future.

Fear the Sword's fearless prediction: the Cavaliers keep the playoff dream alive for at least one more night, win 93-89.

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