For the Cavaliers, Wednesday's game vs. the Raptors, in some ways, was telling. Although no one left left the game suddenly thinking that the Raptors are better than the Cavs, it's clear that the Cavs - or at least LeBron James - are frustrated by the current state of the team.
The Cavs, of course, had a player's only meeting after Wednesday's loss and LeBron James blunt in saying that he didn't think that Cleveland improved Wednesday and it seems like he wasn't happy with the Cavs' mindset heading into the game.
Friday's matchup against the Hornets is the Cavs' first game since that meeting and after the entire team had a day off for Thanksgiving. Let's see what happens.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Charlotte Hornets
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Time Warner Cable Arena - Charlotte, North Carolina
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
Enemy Blog: At The Hive
Music: Lunch Money - Pusha T
What to watch for
- For the season, the Cavs are 3-4 on the road and all four load losses have come against Eastern Conference teams (Raptors, Bulls, Bucks and Pistons). It's not particularly meaningful, but it's interesting.
- Charlotte very well could be the fifth team to beat the Cavs this year. Before the season started, it was assumed that the Hornets wouldn't be very good after losing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist but they've actually been fairly good. At the moment, Charlotte is 9-6 - good for sixth place in the East, for what that's worth - and won four straight.
- It is worth noting, however, that Charlotte's wins haven't come against the best competition. The first two wins came against the Nets and 76ers - the two worst teams in the East. The other wins came against the Kings and the Wizards. The win against Washington was perhaps the most impressive of the streak for the Hornets, as they beat Washington by 14 points.
- For the Cavs, this is the first of two straight games where they'll face post scoring threats that anchor opposing team's offensives. Charlotte, of course, has Al Jefferson and then the Cavs will take on Brooklyn's Brook Lopez on Saturday. This is important for Cleveland because Timofey Mozgov is still out, leaving the interior defensive responsibilities to Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao. Mozgov's coming back and will ideally return to last year's form, so this isn't huge. But it's perhaps most interesting to see how Varejao plays against someone as good as Jefferson.
- Kevin Love might have a big night. He's likely to be defended by Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller and rookie Frank Kaminsky. Zeller maybe has the best chance of slowing him down, but this are all advantageous match-ups for Love. The Cavs should get him involved early and often.
- Let's see what the Cavs energy looks like. This is still a somewhat thin team, and that explains some of it, but the energy level probably has to be a little higher than it was in Toronto. Even if the game is close, LeBron and company coming out aggressive would be a good sign. It's a long season, but seeing some aggression now - even with Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert out - would be a positive step. Of course, we've seen this a little before - and the Cavs are still really good - but it still feels like this team can reach another level.