As the Cleveland Cavaliers (1-7) travel to Spectrum Center to take on Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets (4-5), they’ll try to get their second win in three games, setting the tone for a much more competitive chapter than their first six games. With Walker averaging 29.1 points and 6.0 assists per game, the Cavs’ hands will be full but luckily, they’ve already executed a gameplan this season that’s shown itself to work against a point guard whose shifty, explosive scorer.
Cleveland’s gameplan could be to get the ball out of Walker’s hands as much as possible by blitzing and trapping pick-and-rolls. Using their length and off-ball awareness, the starting unit could get out to a quick jump on the Hornets by forcing turnovers and executing in transition, like they did against Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks in their first season of Drew’s tenure as acting head coach.
After handily defeating the Hawks, the Cleveland Cavaliers offered fans a glimmer of hope in what’s been an otherwise dreary season. Starting off 0-6, the team fired head coach Tyronn Lue in hopes that Drew could provide the voice and the spark that Cleveland was missing under Lue.
Their first win of the season was, however, just one win and a team with bad habits isn’t going to right the ship in one day. So, after getting blown out by the Denver Nuggets despite a hot start against Mile High’s seemingly playoff-bound team, it should be no surprise that the team’s tendency to play selfishly on offense and provide lackluster effort on reared their ugly head.
Will Saturday night’s game be another step forward for the Cavaliers? Or will Walker and the Hornets’ three-point threats exploit their weaknesses?
Location: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC.
Probable Starters (CLE):
Larry Nance Jr.
Probable Starters (CHA):
The second unit backcourts
Though the Cavaliers starters have their hands full against Walker and Co., the Hornets have one of the better second unit backcourts in the league’s with Malik Monk and Tony Parker. If Cavaliers rookie point guard Collin Sexton and Jordan Clarkson can match the firepower of the Hornets’ backcourt, Cleveland will be in prime position to pull out a win. The Hornets’ almost certainly live and die with Walker’s performance so Sexton and Clarkson (averaging 28.1 points per game combined) have to continue to put pressure on opposing defenses.
They just need to be smart about how they play, too.
The Cavaliers win if…
They move the ball, take their time and take good shots. The Cavaliers tend to be at their worst when they’re rushing to get a good shot for themselves and that shot-selection doesn’t bode well for Cleveland’s chance at victory for three reasons. Their work-in-progress transition defense, the team’s current lack of chemistry and their lack of an offensive identiy.
The Hornets win if…
They destroy the Cavaliers from beyond the arc. Cleveland has been one of the worst teams as defending the three-point line for multiple seasons because of players that don’t play with the prerequisite defensive effort. Teams are making 12.6 three-point attempts per game against the Cavaliers (ranked 20th in the NBA), taking 30.1 three-point attempts per game (12th in the NBA) and shooting 41.9 percent from three-point range (ranked 29th in the NBA). The Hornets make 12.8 three-point attempts per game (ranked 4th in the NBA), take 35.2 attempts per game (ranked 4th in the NBA) and convert 36.3 percent of their attempts (ranked 13th in the NBA).
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