The last time the Cleveland Cavaliers took on the New Orleans Hornets, Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving put on a fourth quarter show on ESPN. Scoring 35 points, Irving lead the Cavaliers to a big win and raised his profile even higher. With Irving now having been out a few weeks, Luke Walton let it slip that Irving may play tonight against the Hornets. If so, Cavaliers fans will have a real reason to watch against the leagues third and fourth worst teams.
Opponent’s Blog: Pelican Debrief
Venue: New Orleans Arena
Tipoff: 6:00 PM ET
Betting Line: Hornets by -6
Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio
Where you can listen: WTAM (1100), WFUN (970 AM)
Let’s assume that Irving will not take the floor tonight. Sure it’s nice thought that the best player either of these teams has will actually suit up tonight, but it is not likely. Even Walton said he practiced, it’s not likely he’ll play unless he is 100 percent ready to go. What that means is that tonight’s matchup is truly going to be low level, ugly NBA basketball.
For the Cavaliers, it’s all about establishing themselves early in the game. That means Tyler Zeller, Tristan Thompson and company are going to need to be physical from the get go and hit the boards hard. Also, if I am the Cavaliers, I feed the ball to C.J. Miles early and often. Erin Gordon, his Hornets counterpart, isn’t the best defender, and with the right amount of screens, he should be able to get open for three pointers galore.
Look for Coach Scott to also get one of the Cavaliers big men going. They are going to need to do that early, as rookie Anthony Davis has a strong defensive presence in the paint. They cannot afford to let him become entrenched in the middle.
Cleveland did a very good job of doing that last game by attacking Davis directly, but without Irving and Dion Waiters, there is not one player on the roster capable of attacking the rim efficiently and effectively from the wing. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of game plan Coach Scott goes with to combat this.
For New Orleans, Gordon is going to be there primary weapon. A slasher by trade, he’s likely going to get open looks no matter if Miles or Wayne Ellington is defending him.
And if Daniel “Boobie” Gibson is at any time matched up with the former Indiana star, then it would not shock me to see Gordon get the ball possession after possession after possession.
With all of the Cavaliers issues, this is the Hornets game to lose. There are healthier, have more firepower and have a more cohesive roster at this time. Sure they are still a fairly bad team, but at least they have their top players. Cleveland does not, and unless Irving rises from the dead on Easter Sunday and proves to be healthy, then this going to be another Cavaliers loss on their road to a top three draft pick.