The Eastern Conference playoff seeding is still up in the air and the Cleveland Cavaliers have a prime opportunity to influence it Sunday against the Charlotte Hornets. A Cavs win would give them a nearly insurmountable three and a half game lead over the Toronto Raptors and would deal a blow to the Hornets hopes at home-court advantage.
Who? Charlotte Hornets (44-31) at Cleveland Cavaliers (54-22)
When? 3:30 PM
Where? Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio.
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
Enemy blog: At The Hive
The Hornets have been playing some of the best basketball in the NBA for the last two months and are not a team that should be taken lightly. Kemba Walker has elevated his play to an All Star level, even though he wasn't rewarded with an appearance and an increased emphasis on three point shooting has brought their offense into this century.
The match-up of the night will definitely be between the two point guards in Walker and Kyrie Irving. Irving had been playing better defense as of late, but was at his worst that I can remember in awhile against the Atlanta Hawks. He certainly has the ability to make Walker work on the defensive end of the floor, even if his shots aren't falling, but how he handles cutting off the head of the snake will go a long way towards determining the outcome.
Charlotte is currently in the top ten in offensive and defensive rating for the season, despite some struggles earlier on. It will take a complete team effort on both ends of the court if the Cavs want to come away with a win. The Hornets also average the fewest turnovers per game in the league and have the best defensive rebound rate in the NBA. A sluggish performance for the Cavs won't likely be rewarded with extra opportunities, so they will need to take care of the ball and really make an effort to find the best shot possible.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction:
Sunday afternoon games suck. Team's never play at their best, so I expect the game to have an ugly start early on. I think this will be competitive and a fun game in the second half, but the first will probably keep the final score down. Cavs win 95-90 behind strong games from LeBron James and Kevin Love while Irving struggles with his jumper but contributes by doing the little things and moving the ball.