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Hornets head to Cleveland with playoff dreams dancing in their heads

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The Hornets need to beat the lowly Cavaliers and hope for some help tonight.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

What: Charlotte Hornets (38-42) at Cleveland Cavaliers (19-62)

When: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Where: Quicken Loans Arena; Cleveland, OH

How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

The Hornets have to defeat the defending Eastern Conference champions on the road to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Lucky for them, the defending Eastern Conference champions are not a good basketball team.

The Cavaliers beat the Milwaukee Bucks on Mach 20th. They haven’t won since. They are losers of nine straight games. The Hornets will try to make it a perfect ten to wrap up the Cavaliers season.

Rookie guard Collin Sexton has been the Cavaliers’ lone bright spot down the stretch. Since the All Star Break, he’s averaging 20.9 points per game on 47.7/42.7/83.3 shooting. He doesn’t contribute anywhere else in the box score, which is mildly concerning, but he’s shown the ability to get buckets.

If the Cavs stick with their starting lineup from last game, Sexton will start the game with Brandon Knight (welcome back to the league), Cedi Osman, Larry Nance Jr., and Channing Frye (yes he’s still playing). Matthew Dellavedova is out with a concussion while Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love are being held out of the team’s final game of the season for rest purposes. What are they resting for? I don’t know. I guess they’re just getting a head start on the offseason.

Despite the Cavaliers struggles, the Hornets cannot take this game lightly. Obviously it’s a must-win to keep the playoffs in sight, and the Hornets slipped up in this very building a few months ago. The Cavaliers, at the time owners of a 1-11 record, walloped the Hornets in their November 13th meeting in Cleveland. The Hornets need to prove that was a fluke.

They won’t have their full complement of players again tonight. Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller are both out again. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Shelvin Mack are also not available as each tends to their own respective personal matters.

There is another game that bears almost equal importance to this one for the Hornets. The Detroit Pistons host the Memphis Grizzlies in a must-lose game. That game also takes place at 7:00, so keep your favorite score app handy while the Hornets game is on.

The Grizzlies owe the Boston Celtics their first round pick this offseason if it falls outside of the top eight. Those protections get lighter as the years go on, so the Grizzlies want to go ahead and convey the pick this year before they start their rebuild in earnest. As it stands right now, the Grizzlies currently hold the eighth pick, a half game behind the Pelicans. They badly need this win.

Unfortunately, about half of their roster is hurt. Mike Conley, Avery Bradley, and Joakim Noah are all out. It’s an uphill battle, but they’ve pulled off their fair share of upsets while the Pistons are skidding at the worst possible time.

Tonight should be super fun and super duper stressful.