HOW TO WATCH
Time: 8:00 PM EST
Location: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, N.C.
Where to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
Coming off of a blowout loss at the hands of the Chicago Bulls just one night earlier, the Charlotte Hornets have a chance to avenge themselves as they host the Cleveland Cavaliers.
These two teams played each other on April 14, a game Cleveland won 103-90; that was the third loss in a four-game skid for Charlotte, who has gone 1-3 since that date. Following a surprise 4-2 road trip in late-March and early-April, the Hornets just have not been able to find enough shooting or rim pressure to generate reliable offense with three key rotation members sidelined with injuries, and it’s led to a string of losses in the last two weeks.
KEYS TO THE GAME
The Cavaliers are one of few teams that are figuratively “out” of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference, and the only wins in the last 13 days have come against the Hornets and Bulls. Currently in possession of the sixth-best lottery odds, the Cavs are in full-on player development mode for the rest of the season with Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland, Isaiah Hartenstein, Isaac Okoro, Collin Sexton and Dean Wade all featuring heavily in the rotation (some more than others).
Terry Rozier put up 22 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and four steals against Cleveland nine days ago, and he’ll likely need to have another night of 20-plus points balanced with creating opportunities for teammates, which he’s done an excellent job at during this stretch despite not being much of a point guard during his time in Charlotte.
Over the last seven games, the Hornets rank 27th in offensive rating (106.3) and 25th in defensive rating (115.6), per NBA.com. The Cavs are actually a bit better in both categories over the same stretch, but with the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks on the horizon, this is the closest thing Charlotte will have to a “get right” game against a lower opponent.
Setting the pace early, controlling the tempo throughout the game and role-players knocking down the open shots that are created for them should be enough to get the Hornets a win tonight provided Miles Bridges, Devonte’ Graham, Rozier, and PJ Washington all produce at their average level.
Speaking of which; despite this lowly 1-6 slide as of late, Bridges is averaging 20.3 points, 7.6 rebounds (1.3 offensive), 2.3 assists and 1.0 blocks on 7.9 3-point attempts per game and 63.9 percent true shooting. At the least, it’s been nice to see him carry the offense for stretches and show loads of improvement as a shot creator and passer.
No changes for the Hornets from the last couple of games; LaMelo Ball (wrist), Nate Darling (right ankle sprain), Gordon Hayward (right foot sprain) and Malik Monk (right ankle sprain) are all out tonight.
Taurean Prince is out for the season after undergoing a recent ankle surgery. Prince has rediscovered himself in a sense in Cleveland, cementing himself in the rotation and posting 10.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 23.7 minutes per game, so he will be missed. Damyean Dotson (knee) and Dylan Windler (knee) are also out.