The Cleveland Cavaliers didn't play well on Monday and that would be underselling it. In their loss to the Pistons, the Cavs didn't string together any consistent runs and couldn't overcome the lead Detroit built up in the first part of the third quarter. They'll look to avoid a similar fate against the Charlotte Hornets, another Eastern Conference team on the fringe of making the playoffs, on Wednesday.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Charlotte Hornets
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, Ohio
Enemy Blog: At The Hive
Music: March Madness by Future
Keys to the game
- The last time these two teams played, the Hornets won by a final score of 106-97. Charlotte didn't necessarily play much better than the Cavs in their win, but they played harder. Looking back at that game, there are several instances of the Cavs not coming around screens and not doing much of anything when the Hornets attacked the rim. They also did so without Kemba Walker, who missed the game with an injury.
- This is one major common thread in several of the Cavs' losses this season. Monday's loss to the Pistons, for instance, happened partly because Detroit played harder and crisper than Cleveland. You could cut the Cavs some slack because they were coming off a back-to-back, but some of the mistakes were just effort mistakes.
- That isn't always going to cut it for the Cavs. It does against some of the bad teams, but against mid-level Eastern Conference teams like the Hornets and Pistons, it won't. These are teams that probably won't beat the Cavs in the playoffs when it matters, but these type of losses are one of the reasons the Cavs get critiqued.
- The Hornets made a nice move at the deadline to acquire Courtney Lee from the Grizzlies and Charlotte has the right mix of players that can give the Cavs some issues. A wing trio of Walker, Lee and Nic Batum, for instance, will make the Cavs work. The best option may be for the Cavs to move Kyrie Irving off Walker and onto Le. They did something similar Monday against the Pistons after Irving struggled to stay in front of Reggie Jackson early and it seemed to help the defense overall. This, though, probably all depends on LeBron James being engaged defensively and sticking with Batum. LeBron wasn't really involved or active Monday and it definitely played a part in how bad the Cavs looked against the Pistons.
- Another look Charlotte probably will throw at the Cavs is a two-point guard look featuring Walker and Jeremy Lin. Per basketball-reference, the Walker-Lin duo is the Hornets' sixth most common two-man lineup and it forces Irving to guard someone who likes to drive and attack. Lin, by the way, scored 24 points when these two teams last played.
- Another thing to watch here is how much Channing Frye plays against Charlotte. He was a non-factor in his debut Monday and he probably won't play much more than a few minutes a game anyway. He, though, could deserve a few extra minutes against a Charlotte team that plays several bigs.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction
The Cavs have had a day off and, of late, haven't played in back-to-back games. Charlotte might make it close, but the Cavs should win here. Cleveland 101, Charlotte 94.
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