The Cleveland Cavaliers’ (21–37) run through the make-or-break section of their schedule continues tonight as the Charlotte Hornets (28–29) come to Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. Already up 2–0 in the season series, round three offers a rare chance at a season sweep—and over a team that’s heavily in the mix for the play-in tournament, no less.
How to watch
The festivities commence at 8 p.m. and can be viewed on Bally Sports Ohio or NBA League Pass.
Cavaliers: Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Isaac Okoro, Kevin Love, Jarrett Allen
Hornets: Terry Rozier, Devonte’ Graham, Miles Bridges, Jaden McDaniels, Vernon Carey Jr.
The Hornets’ stingers might be a little scant on venom tonight. Not only is LaMelo Ball still recuperating from a broken wrist (though he might not be for much longer), but two other key contributors, Gordon Hayward and Malik Monk, have been out for an extended period of time too. The absences might necessitate a shorter rotation for Charlotte and heavy minutes for their starters.
The Cavaliers, meanwhile, have their preferred starting lineup for the fifth straight game. It’s taken far too long to get here, but there’s never a bad time to get an extended look at how a young team jells.
Things to look for
Jack ’em up! The Hornets give up the most threes in the league (40.4 per game) despite playing just below the league-average pace (16th). Long-range offense has been a well-documented shortcoming for the Cavaliers this year. Fortunately, the Cavs themselves have worked to rectify it; since Kevin Love returned to the lineup on April 1, the Cavs are 20th in the NBA in three-point attempts per game, a significant leap from their dead-last placement on the season. They shot 16-for-36 on Wednesday against the Bulls; coincidentally, they blew Chicago’s doors off! Tonight’s contest offers another ripe opportunity for the Cavs to keep the fun going and further address a major weakness.
Scary, Cav-killing Terry. Historically, Terry Rozier is never scarier than when he’s facing the Cleveland Cavaliers. For his career, he’s scored more points on average against the Cavs than every team but the Portland Trail Blazers. He averages his most made threes against the Cavs, and on his second-highest accuracy. This may not come as a surprise considering Rozier dropped 42 points on 10-for-16 from deep in the season opener, then had 22 on 4-for-10 from deep on April 14. Rozier might be going it alone tonight, though. Aside from Hayward, who’s out injured tonight, Bridges is Charlotte’s second-leading scorer against the Cavs this year at 13 points per game. Rozier is especially liable to go nuclear tonight, but neutralize him, and the Hornets might not have a good enough fallback plan.
Dear defenders: be careful out there. By now, you’ve certainly seen Miles Bridges’ immolation of Clint Capela last week. You’ve also probably seen his follow-up against the Portland Trail Blazers. In fact, you know what? His whole highlight reel is probably taking up real estate in your brain somewhere. This should be of particular interest to the Cavs’ bigs, especially Kevin Love and Jarrett Allen. Allen has one of the most prolific block lists of any player in the league, and Love...well, Ja Morant was a few centimeters from doing something heinous to him a while back. If either tries to meet Bridges at the rim, seek a fallout shelter.