The end of last week was a tough one for the Cleveland Cavaliers. They had a couple of tough, tightly contested losses to the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans on a road back-to-back, and were in both games late before eventually losing. In addition, the Cavs had to sit LeBron James against the Thunder due to knee soreness, and the team had a brief terrorizing scare that Kyrie Irving was seriously hurt during the game. Then, after Friday night's game, Dion Waiters and Matthew Dellavedova were both checked into a New Orleans hospital for testing after experiencing abdominal pain (Dion) and vomiting (Delly).
Luckily, none of the ailing players appear to have anything serious going on, and the Cavs get a chance to get back on track tonight as they host the 6-17 Charlotte Hornets.
Who: Charlotte Hornets at Cleveland Cavaliers
When: 7:00PM ET
Where: Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, Ohio
Televisation: Fox Sports Ohio
Music: Good Charlotte - The Anthem
More like BAD Charlotte, am I right? Get it? Because they were supposed to be a playoff contender and are 6-17? Eh? Eh?
*Sigh* Let's just get to the breakdown.
Threes, Please. One of the biggest reasons the Cavs couldn't keep up with the Thunder or Pelicans was that they really struggled to hit from outside, converting just 9/28 (32.1 percent) against the Thunder and 8/22 (36.4 percent) against the Pelicans. The Cavs aren't an elite three-point shooting team by any means, but they really have lacked quality spacing the last couple of games, and not being able to hit better from outside has resulted in plenty of contested shots in the paint. Charlotte's defense seems like the perfect thing to help work this out, as they're allowing opponents to shoot 38.2 percent from three, 27th in the league. The Hornets like to limit shots at the paint and let opponents take their chances against their above-average perimeter D, and with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist still trying to regain form after injury, they're getting burned with this plan. The Cavs should be able to get consistent looks from outside tonight.
Things are Getting 13-14 Cavs-ian for the Hornets. The Hornets have been horribly disappointing this year, which sounds pretty familiar, but we've officially hit another parallel with today's news that the Hornets are looking to unload Lance Stephenson. Hmmm, looking to unload a high-priced free agent during his first season with the team? And it potentially costing a first-rounder to do so? We've been there, Charlotte. We feel your pain.
Regardless, this is the first Hornets game since that news broke, and ohhhh ho ho ho that locker room must be a delightful place to be today. Charlotte's chemistry could easily take a nose-dive here, and that's gonna be really fun to watch, because it could mean Lance is going to shoot 30 times tonight. You're not gonna want to miss that.
Swallow the Whistles. Not because there's going to be a ton of physical play tonight, but these are two of the least foul-happy teams in the league, with the Cavs top in the league and the Hornets at third in lowest fouls per game. Both of these teams are more than happy to give up an open look in order to keep opponents off the free throw line, and that's going to mean more free-flowing play, something I think we're all for. I expect somewhere in the realm of about 35-40 combined free throw attempts tonight.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction: Lance tries to play hero ball to make management pay for wanting to trade him, and nukes Charlotte's offense in the process. The Cavs struggle early to score with Charlotte taking away the interior, but ultimately get enough quality fast break looks and threes that they can put the Hornets away by the third quarter. Cavs 108, Hornets 88.