The Charlotte Hornets take on the leading team in the Eastern Conference tomorrow night in Cleveland.
The Charlotte Hornets are on the move. They are the winners of five straight and bring that mark into the lion’s den tomorrow night. The Hornets are playing the Cavs in a true test of where this team is at the moment. By all rights, you could mark this as a loss and move on but the Hornets need every victory to keep their grip on the playoffs.
The Cavs are coming into this game with enough on their shoulder. They spent last night losing to the Detroit Pistons in front of a home crowd. The Cavaliers are likely to be hungry to get revenge on the next team, which happens to be the Hornets. Also Kyrie Irving has probably gotten over his bed bug problem by now. So let’s look at tonight’s matchup.
Cavaliers Projected Lineup
One of the things to note about the Cavaliers starting five is that is not very tall up front. One thing they gave up to the Pistons last night was rebounds since they had no one to compete with Andre Drummond down low. Fortunately for the Cavs, the Hornets also do not have a Drummond, but hustle rebounding will be important.
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There is plenty of star power here with James, Love, and Irving. Two of them had monster games against Detroit, but it may not make up for the lack of defensive intensity for the Cavs. If Irving scored thirty on the Pistons, Reggie Jackson had twenty-three of his own. The Pistons got better production from their top six players than the Cavs did.
Hornets Projected Lineup
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The Hornets offer ways to hurt the Cavs’ defensive front different than the Pistons did. First you have the perimeter shooting bigs like Williams and Kaminsky that will draw defenders out of the paint. That will open up the lane for Kemba Walker, and this is a game where the Hornets will need Walker. James will probably match up on Batum first, leaving Irving on Walker. Walker should be slightly more dangerous than Jackson was last night.
This may be another opportunity for Al Jefferson off the bench to test the front court of Cleveland. There is always the chance the Cavs bring in Mozgov or Frye to bolster the defense, but Jefferson should be about to work around Love and Thompson when they are on the court together.
This is almost a playoff preview and a time for Charlotte to show what they are made of. They are missing Spencer Hawes, but most of the other pieces that they will use for the remainder of the season are in place. Time to kick the tires.
The Hornets and Cavs tip off at 7:00 PM tomorrow night.