The Cavaliers have lost two straight games and looked bad in the process. Their defense has dropped to 22nd in points allowed and their offense has yet to click. The Bobcats have somehow looked even worse on offense to start the season, but have allowed the 4th fewest points per game and have rode that to a .500 record.
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (3-6) vs Charlotte Bobcats (4-4)
When? 7:30 pm ET
Where? Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland OH
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio / NBA League Pass
Things to watch for the Cavaliers
How will they respond to their last defeat? The game against Minnesota was ugly no matter how you look at it. This game will help to show the mental makeup of these Cavaliers. Will they come out on fire? Will they start to fall apart if they struggle early against the surprisingly stingy Bobcats? Let's hope Mike Brown was able to translate Wednesday's blowout into a teaching experience and use it to galvanize the team; making them buy in to what he is teaching.
But the players aren't the only ones that need to respond to a loss like that. The coaching staff needs to look themselves in the mirror and figure out what is working/ not working. When they identify what's not working, they need to figure out what is causing certain sets/ plays to fail. The answer may not be abandoning plays all together, just tweaks in positioning/ personnel. We probably are a long ways away from seeing what the matured offensive and defensive systems are supposed to look like for this years team. But I'd look for a few new wrinkles to be implemented tonight.
The Cavaliers are 14-1 all time at home vs. the Bobcats. That has to be a good omen right? Right?!?
One change from the first meeting between these teams will be the addition of Al Jefferson and the subtraction of Andrew Bynum from their respective lineups. While Jefferson is a black hole on offense and a liability defensively, he is still a force to be reckoned with down low. Without Bynum to put a body on big Al, the Cavaliers will need to rely on double teaming and platooning multiple defenders at Jefferson. One of the keys of the game will be Varejao and Thompson staying out of foul trouble and playing good positional defense on Jefferson. You won't be able to shut him down, but if you can at least make him work for his baskets on offense, you should be able to expose him on the other side of the court. Thompson has done a good job in the past against larger big men like Zach Randolph. So I wouldn't be surprised to see Mike Brown stick him on Jefferson rather than put Zeller or Sims in a position to fail.
A strong defensive performance would go a long way towards restoring some faith back in this club. The Cavaliers allowed 29 points in transition last game, that number is unacceptable. If they can keep Charlotte in a half court game, they are likely to struggle and hopefully turn the ball over so the Cavs can get some easy transition buckets. The Bobcats are experiencing the same thing the Cavs have faced this season, it's tough to integrate a ball dominant big man into an offense without experiencing bumps along the way. Let's not make things easier for them tonight.
What to watch for the Bobcats:
Can their wing players make life hell for the Cavs? Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor are all tenacious defenders on the perimeter, as well as a large part of the reason the Bobcats allow the fourth fewest points in the league. They will try hard to get the Cavs young back-court to make mistakes and lose their composure. The Cavs need to take care of the ball on the perimeter and limit turnovers because these guys can turn it into 2 points the other way in a hurry.
Will Kemba Walker bounce back from his rough outing? He went 1-13 from the floor against the Celtics Wednesday night. After the game Anthony Bennett texted him saying, "come on even I went 3-11 tonight." This story may or may not be true, but look for Walker to have a better showing tonight.
Hopefully Tristan Thompson gets touches tonight on offense. He had 21 points on 6-11 shooting in their last game. He should be able to eat Jefferson and Cody Zeller alive if he is given the opportunity.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction
Offense! Explosions! Austin Carr laughing hysterically and incoherently mumbling something! Cavs win 105-89