The last month or so has been tough for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Since November twelfth, the Cavs have played just three games against teams not currently in the playoff picture. The New York Knicks, Detriot Pistons and the San Antonio Spurs.
While the Cavs are just 1-16 against teams with a winning record, they hold a respectable 5-5 record against teams below .500. A record they will look to build upon against the Charlotte Hornets Wednesday night.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (6-21) vs Charlotte Hornets (12-17)
When: 7:00 p.m. EST
Where: Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse — Cleveland, Ohio
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
While the Cavs record is respectable against teams with a losing record, a lot of that record came early in the season. The team got out to a strong start and was playing with a compete level and confidence that they were better than the consensus.
Whether the team can get back to that level of buy-in now that the schedule has lightened up is hard to say. They’ve had a peak behind the curtain and seem to realize that this is a team that has a very long way to go.
One of the biggest determining factors for whether they can get back into gear will be the effort of Kevin Love. It’s no secret at this point that Love would be amendable to a trade out of town. But given the size and length of his contract, suitors will be tough to find. A problem that will only be exacerbated if he continues to sulk and drift around on the court.
As is often the case in life, you can’t control what life throws at you but you can control how you deal with it. Love’s recent play sends the message of “I want to stay in Cleveland”, just not in a way that is endearing to fans. If he wants freedom, he’ll have to play for it.
Meanwhile Charlotte has been a surprise early this season. Most projected them to be among the worst teams in the league. However, in an inverse of the Cavs situation, they are loaded with veteran players throughout their lineup giving them meaningful contributions.
They still have some young players in their first couple years, like the surprising Devonte’ Graham, Malik Monk, PJ Washington and Miles Bridges. With Graham, Washington and Bridges making up three of their top five scorers. But veterans like Terry Rozier, Cody Zeller, Marvin Williams, Nic Batum, and Bismack Biyombo have provided a valuable safety net and support for their young guys.
Another factor for their relative success might be strength of schedule. The Hornets are 27th in the league in strength of schedule, while the Cavs have played the most difficult. With Charlotte on the second night of a back to back and a Cavs team that seems to be building some positive momentum, this could be a great opportunity for a win.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction:
The Cavs have some fun offensively after a prolonged stretch vs good defenses and win 112-101 with a strong performance from Sexland.