Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte
When: 7 p.m. EST
TV/Radio: Fox Sports Southeast/ WFNZ 610 AM
There has certainly been some changes to the Cleveland Cavaliers since the Charlotte Hornets last saw them. David Blatt is out, and Tyronn Lue is in as Cavalier's head coach. Lue is essentially Lebron James personal choice as coach. Blatt apparently never gained the respect of his players, and also never held his players accountable. There's many aspects to this Blatt firing, but what's more interesting is the short tenure so far of Tyronn Lue. The Cavaliers dropped the first game with Lue at the helm and since then the team has been completely different.
Lebron and company have since won five straight and scored at least 110 points in each game, and they're the first team in Lebron's playing history to achieve that. The team plays at a faster pace, taking advantage of fast breaks and putting up quick shots. Forward Kevin Love is receiving the ball more at the elbow, and is now longer relegated to spot up shooter who just stands around outside the play. Love excelled at the elbow for the Minnesota Timberwolves years ago and it shows he can still dominate from that spot on the floor. I guess all it took was a coach who wouldn't back down from harping on players if they don't put in the effort. A players only meeting lead by Lebron James and the highly respected James Jones also help set the Cavaliers straight. If Cleveland keeps this play up there's very few teams who can stop them.
Charlotte of course is still dealing with injuries as usual. It's unknown at this point if Jeremy Lamb and Nicolas Batum will be able to play. Their offense would certainly be appreciated against a team that can put up the points quickly. With Batum out the Hornets won't be able to run with the ideal Batum and Michael-Kidd Gilchrist combination at the two and three. Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin will probably start at the one and two again. If the Hornets want to have a chance they're going to need to at least slow down Kyrie Irving who's averaging a solid 23 points per game over his last two outings. Spencer Hawes will be facing Lebron's personal rebounder Tristan Thompson barring a Cody Zeller return. Hawes already struggles to rebound the ball at an average rate and this matchup certainly doesn't play in the big mans favor. Marvin Williams will probably struggle guarding Kevin Love as he operates from the post, and Cleveland's bench has solid defensive guys in Matthew Delladova, Iman Shumpert, and Timofey Mozgov.
What brings me hope is Michael-Kidd Gilchrist is back and Charlotte finally has their chosen Lebron James defender back. If MKG can put a dent in Lebron's overall game like he normally does than Charlotte has a fighting chance. I'm worried about Charlottes chance of victory in this one, and I'm certainly not the only one. If Charlotte can play defense like they did against Los Angeles they at least have a chance.