Final Score: Cleveland Cavaliers fall to the Charlotte Bobcats 101-92

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Cavaliers missed out on an opportunity to pull within one win of the eight place Atlanta Hawks and the final playoff spot when they lost to the stingy Charlotte Bobcats.

The Cavaliers battled hard Friday night but were ultimately unable to get over the hump against one of the leagues best defensive teams. At the time that I am writing this the Detroit Pistons are down 30 points to the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Atlanta Hawks play in Golden State. This was a difficult loss, as it was a winnable game in a very difficult month; it is by no means a death blow to their playoff chances. If you were holding your breath in anticipation of a possible 7th seed, consider this your official notice that you can let that breath out. It ain't happening.

The Bobcats have won all four matchups this season against the Cavaliers. They are not a team that can be dismissed or counted on as an easy win anymore as they proved with just two nights ago when they beat the Pacers by over 20. When you play great defense you give yourself a chance to win every night and it appears like they just have the Cavs number.

Quick thoughts:

  • Big Al brought his full clip tonight. Al Jefferson was outstanding, as he has been all year for Charlotte. He finished with 28 points and 7 rebounds. He's one of the best post scorers in the NBA and one of the last true back to the basket centers. It appeared that he got under the skin of Spencer Hawes as well, who seemed infuriated with Al's relentless attack.
  • Kemba Walker also played out of his mind tonight. He did an outstanding job of getting everybody on the team involved as well as calling his own number. Even though he only shot 5/13 he finished with a monster line of 20&14. This was a big night for the seven people that still think Kemba vs. Kyrie is a legitimate debate.
  • The other half of this generations Paul vs. Williams had a rough night. Kyrie Irving was off to a very balanced start to the game until he got in early foul trouble. After that point he just didn't seem himself on offense and couldn't get into a groove. He did a pretty good job on defense and had a good rebounding performance, but at the end of the day the Cavs need Kyrie to shoulder a much more significant scoring load in order to win most nights.
  • Luol Deng had one of his better games as a Cavalier. He seems to be getting healthier/ moving around better on the court. Deng has been a massive disappointment so far in his career as a Cavalier. But if there ever was a time for him to turn it around it would be right now, better late than never.
  • Tristan Thompson had a decent night with 10 & 8 with no turnovers. He wasn't heavily involved in the offense but did have some trouble when he needed to get out on the perimeter to guard the underrated Josh McRoberts. McBob hit a dagger three late in the game and has been a large part of the success the Bobcats have had this season.
  • Dion Waiters luckily does not appear to have much rust. He scored 19 points on 8-18 shooting and brought a lot of energy that the team sorely missed during his absence. Waiters draws a lot of attention when he's on the court and wears down his opposition when he plays physically. If the Cavaliers are to survive this tough March stretch and get to the much more manageable April schedule in striking range, Dion Waiters will need to be a large part of the equation.
The Cavaliers play again tomorrow night against the Knicks at home. A former Cavalier great will be in attendance and will have his jersey retired. You should tune in.
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