After nine months of being away, the Cleveland Cavaliers are finally playing meaningful basketball again as they open up their season at home against the Charlotte Hornets.
How to watch:
Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Go, and NBA League Pass.
Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has been tight-lipped on who will be starting for the team to open up the season. But, that doesn’t change the fact that Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Kevin Love, and Andre Drummond will be entrenched as the team’s starters when fully healthy. The real battle of interest comes down to who starts at small forward between Cedi Osman and Isaac Okoro. Okoro has been impressive this preseason but with a condensed time to prepare and acclimate himself to Cleveland, don’t be surprised to see Okoro coming off the bench at first. That, and it makes sense for Bickerstaff to stick with what he knows for now in Osman as well.
Again, this all hinges on whether or not the team is fully healthy. Love has been battling a sore right Achilles injury all through preseason and if he’s unable to go against Charlotte, look for Larry Nance Jr. to draw the start in his stead.
Cavs: Darius Garland/Collin Sexton/Cedi Osman/Larry Nance Jr.*/Andre Drummond
*-It’s been confirmed that Kevin Love is OUT tonight against the Hornets.
Hornets: Terry Rozier/Devonte Graham/Gordon Hayward/P.J. Washington/Cody Zeller
This section will be updated as we get closer to tip-off and find out more about who is and is not available for Cleveland.
Things to watch for:
- Will Gordon Hayward actually play? Hayward sustained an avulsion fracture of his fifth metacarpal on his right hand during Charlotte’s preseason game against the Toronto Raptors on December 14 and was day-to-day going forward. Hayward has practiced in full since then for Charlotte but, it remains to be seen if he’ll open the season against the Cavs. There’s something ominous about Hayward starting a season with a new team in Cleveland.
- LaMelo Ball makes his return to northeast Ohio. The Hornets selected polarizing prospect LaMelo Ball with the third-overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft this November. Ball, who spent time at nearby SPIRE Academy, will be making his return to northeast Ohio and will likely be playing in reserve of Terry Rozier. This will provide a test for Cleveland’s bench unit as well as Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, and Isaac Okoro.
- Isaac Okoro makes his official Cleveland debut. After a stellar preseason, Cavs rookie forward Isaac Okoro will look to build upon that momentum when the team finally starts to play games that matter. The Hornets have an interesting mix of talented guards and wings that will be able to test the defensive prowess of the young forward early into his career.