On Wednesday night, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers welcome Jeremy Lin and the Charlotte Hornets to the Quicken Loans Arena. The Hornets will look to build on their five-game winning streak while the Cavs try to bounce back from their first loss in six games.
Despite Kyrie Irving scoring 30 points and Kevin Love adding another 24, a relatively weak performance from LeBron James (12 points and six turnovers) and a solid effort all around from the Detroit Pistons resulted in the Cavs snapping their five-game winning streak with a 96-88 loss. The defeat is especially painful when taking into consideration the Pistons’ five-game losing streak leading up to the game in Cleveland. As USA Today noted, Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue admitted that he should have rested LeBron during the second half of the back-to-back games.
Aside from that possible mistake, Lue has had a pretty solid start as Cleveland’s head coach since being promoted midseason following the release of David Blatt. Since taking over, Lue has lead the Cavs to 10 wins in 14 games. As the Lantern pointed out, they are averaging almost six more points per game (101.4 to 107.3) since Lue took over while placing a stronger emphasis on overall conditioning as a team and incorporating Kevin Love specifically into the offense.
Many NBA teams that are expected to go deep into the NBA Playoffs will rest some of their major stars periodically throughout the season. Given his weak output, the game against the Pistons might have been a good choice to sit King James. The game prior, with Mo Williams and J.R. Smith out and Irving clocking just over nine minutes, key veteran Richard Jefferson stepped up with 15 points and six boards in 25 minutes of play. If 25 of Lebron’s minutes on Monday night had been replaced by another solid Jefferson showing, it might have been enough to get Cleveland past the Pistons.
Meanwhile, Charlotte comes off of two days rest after beating the Nets in Brooklyn by eight points on Sunday night. Not only was it their fifth consecutive win, but it was also their third consecutive victory on the road. If they can get past Cleveland, they’ll have four straight road victories as they play in Indianapolis on Friday, the same place they started the away-game win-streak on February 10.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are currently sitting atop the Central Division and the entire Eastern Conference. The are leading their division by double-digits (10.5 games ahead of the second-place Indiana Pacers) and three games ahead of the Toronto Raptors, who are currently at second place in the East.
Their recent win streak, which included a win in Chicago, has given Charlotte an identical record to the Bulls at 29-26, as they sit at seventh and eighth place in the conference. The Hornets are in third place in the Southeast Division, 2.5 games behind first-place Miami Heat.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Hornets have met twice already this season, both games taking place in North Carolina. Charlotte won earlier this month 106-97 after the Cavs won 95-90 in late November of last year. They will play for the fourth and final time during this regular season on April 3.
Where to watch
With a tip-off set for 8/7c, the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Charlotte Hornets game is available through local affiliate FOX Sports Ohio.
[Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]