Get your morning IV and smell the roses, because the Cleveland Cavaliers are back at it Wednesday night as they travel to Charlotte to take on the Hornets. After an embarrassing loss to the Miami Heat, the Cavs have a chance to hang on to the third seed in their final back to back of the season.
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (44-30) at Charlotte Hornets (34-41)
When? 7 PM
Where? Spectrum Center, Charlotte, North Carolina
Where on my eyeballs? NBA TV
Cavaliers status update: Cedi Osman (Hip - Active), Kyle Korver (Personal - Out), Kevin Love (Head -Out)
Hornets status update: Cody Zeller (Knee - Out), Michael Carter--Williams (Surgery - Out)
With playoff hopes on life support, the Charlotte Hornets have little room for error. They are too far removed from Tankapalooza 2018 to join, so their only real option is trying to win out and hope that they get help along the way.
For the Cavs, they will need to bounce back in a big way if they want to hold off this push by the Philadelphia 76ers. The Boston Celtics are in the infirmary, making the easiest route to the conference finals fairly clear.
The Sixers have been taking care of business since the beginning of schedule, beating almost every team that they should beat. Of their nine remaining games, the only playoff teams remaining are the Cavs and Buck. If Cleveland values remaining on this side of the bracket, they will need to hold serve until their head to head matchup.
Kevin Love’s availability will be the biggest story heading into this game. Love played just 7 minutes against the Miami Heat after taking an elbow to his front teeth. The team sat him in the second half for precautionary reasons, and on Wednesday morning it will be determined whether or not he needs to enter the league’s concussion protocol.
The Cavs are 27-13 when Love plays without Isaiah Thomas, and just 13-17 in all other games. Without Love, you can probably expect to see heavy doses of Jeff Green alongside either Larry Nance Jr. or Tristan Thompson. Of course, neither pairing is ideal from a spacing standpoint.
This is one of those matchups that if the Cavs show up, it shouldn’t be too difficult. If they come out flat, Kemba Walker is dynamic enough to get them into a lot of trouble. Not to mention what Dwight Howard can do on the boards if you aren’t putting a body on him.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction:
Are back to backs really that draining if you didn’t show up for the first game? My gut tells me we will see a more inspired effort from the Cavs tonight, with or without Love. The standings are tight enough that there are real stakes to these games. Cavs defeat the Hornets 120-108.