On Tuesday, the Cavs debut their new jerseys and play the first half of a back-to-back as part of a light, two-game week. And it’s a tough opponent in the Hornets.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Charlotte Hornets
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena — Cleveland, Ohio
Enemy Blog: At The Hive
TV: Fox Sports Ohio
Online: Fox Sports GO, NBA League Pass
Cavs injuries: Kevin Love (OUT - toe surgery), George Hill (OUT - shoulder sprain), Cedi Osman (OUT - low back spasms), Kyle Korver (OUT - foot soreness), Sam Dekker (OUT - left ankle sprain)
Hornets injuries: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (OUT - ankle sprain)
Three keys to the game
The Cavs have a lot of injuries. A quick rundown: the Cavs are currently down their best player, their veteran point guard, their most interesting young wing, their best shooter and the guy that was already filling in for an injured star. Basically, the Cavs are looking at a situation where Larry Drew will have to use some funky lineups, play some players he might not have otherwise played and it might not be pretty. The big thing to expect is more two-big lineups, as it’s just largely just based on whose healthy.
Cleveland has to handle adversity that is sure to come. A lot has changed since the Cavs lost to the Hornets 126-94 on Nov. 3. In that game, the Cavs lost the third quarter by 13 points and were lead by J.R. Smith in scoring with a whopping fourteen points. In the third, after they only down by seven at the half, Cleveland just fell apart and had no cohesion. And the Hornets are solid — they are fourth in the league in offense, scoring 114.2 points per 100 possessions as of Monday and 15th in defense, per nba.com/stats. This is a team that executes well and will likely play solid. Can the Cavs handle that?
How are the Cavs going to generate three-point looks? Korver’s injury matters largely because he is the one guy on the roster the Cavs actively create three-point looks for. Other players take them and take catch-and-shoot threes, but Korver is the guy the Cavs have to run off screens and get at least some threes up. With him out, how will the Cavs adjust? The pressure is likely on Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson more than anyone with J.R. Smith someone else who may need to get up shots. This is especially important if David Nwaba is going to play more minutes with Korver out.
For the year, per Cleaning The Glass, Cleveland is 29th in the NBA in the percentage of their shots at are three-pointers. In LeBron James’ second tenure with the Cavs, they were never lower than fourth.
Collin Sexton has played well since being inserted into the starting lineup in games against the Thunder and Bulls. But he’s facing a step-up in competition in Kemba Walker and Tony Parker. Walker, in particular, will be a challenge because of how well he blends playing with the ball in his hands and without it.
As for Parker, who scored 12 points off the bench largely against Sexton last time these teams played, Sexton will have to a better job than he did last time of staying in front of Parker. Let’s see how he handles this.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
First off, the Cavs are debuting their horrendous city jerseys and should be docked 10 points from the bat for wearing them. But the Hornets are also better. Charlotte 115, Cavs 99.