What: Charlotte Hornets (14-15) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (8-23)
When: 7:00 p.m. EST
Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
To put it simply, the Charlotte Hornets have not been good over the past two games. First, it was losing the 16-point lead in the fourth quarter against a Kristaps Porzingis-less New York Knicks team. Everything seemed to be going right for the team in purple and teal throughout the course of that one, but they were unable to close it out.
The latter game, against the Los Angeles Lakers, was also disappointing. Charlotte couldn’t hit anywhere close to their norm from the three-point line, making just 24 percent of their shots from that area. The defense was also a major cause of concern in that game, as both LeBron James and Lonzo Ball both ended up racking triple-doubles. This sent the Hornets below a .500 record, a mark that the team hasn’t been able to break out of.
Luckily, the team has a chance to throw these two bleak performances behind them.
This is because they are facing the Cleveland Cavaliers. The reigning eastern conference champs look to be facing a nuclear rebuild after superstar LeBron James left for the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles. With their only meaningful player, Kevin Love, still, on the injury books, interim head coach Larry Drew has shuffled the likes of young, developing players in order to determine their future position on the team.
As lackluster as the Cavs have been this season, it’s best to look at individual players in this preview rather than the team as a whole.
Headlined by eighth overall pick Collin Sexton, the Cavaliers do have some interesting young pieces on their roster. Forward Cedi Osman has been a solid player for them this season, averaging 11.1 points, and five rebounds per game. A hybrid wing, Osman is an interesting piece that the team will most likely retain for the long-term.
Two players who have essentially been given a second chance on their careers for the Cavaliers are guards Matthew Dellavedova and Alec Burks. Delly, as many people call him, was a staple of the Cavaliers 2015 Finals team, playing a big role in stopping the two-time MVP Steph Curry from being that nightmarish player on offense. But, after a disappointing stint with the Milwaukee Bucks, he most certainly has the opportunity to regain that high honor that his fans once praised him.
As for Burks, he has finally been “unleashed” on the NBA landscape. The 6’6” guard has been riddled with injuries since stepping foot in the association back in 2011 but has now gotten a chance to shine in a new home. He is putting up productive numbers- 10.7 points, and 5.4 rebounds a night while shooting 30 percent from three. He, just like most bench players, could have a breakout performance against the Hornets, a story line that has been all too common this season.
For the Hornets, they shouldn’t overthink this game. They have a clear talent advantage and need to maintain the pressure throughout the full 48 minutes.
Another note to mention is that the Cavs are playing the second of a back-to-back against the Hornets, having previously played at Indiana last night. This may be a crucial factor as fatigue has always been prevalent in these consecutive games, especially when both of them are on the road.
For those who are going to watch the game, you will see a major change to the broadcast. Longtime Hornets sideline reporter Stephanie Ready has announced her new role at TNT, which lead to a vacant hole in that position. But, the Hornets have found their replacement for the long-time commentator. Ashley Shahahmadi has been a key part on the team’s pre and post-game show throughout this season, and as she steps into her new role, we on At The Hive wish her nothing but the best!
Although it may not seem like it at first glance, this is a game that the Charlotte Hornets need to win. Too many times this season they have played down to their level of competition, coming away with close wins and blow out losses. In order to turn the identity of the season, a change has to be made somewhere, and this game is an opportune time to do so.