Pregame Dribbles: Cavs’ O, Hornets’ D set to collide
Tipoff: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, 7:30 p.m. EST.
Records: Cavaliers 23-20; Hornets 18-25.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio. Radio: WTAM 1100, 100.7 WMMS, 87.7 FM La Mega, AM 1590 WAKR (Akron)
Hornets: C Bismack Biyombo; PF Cody Zeller; SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist; SG Gerald Henderson; PG Kemba Walker.
Cavaliers: C Timofey Mozgov; PF Kevin Love; SF LeBron James; SG J.R. Smith; PG Kyrie Irving.
Cavaliers: G Iman Shumpert (shoulder) questionable; C Anderson Varejao (Achilles) out.
Hornets: Jannero Pargo (back) out.
1. This will be a battle of two of the league’s hottest teams — and opposing styles. The Cavs are 18-1 when scoring 102 or more. The Hornets have held their previous 10 opponents to less than 100.
2. But as LeBron James said the other night, the Cavs are "clicking." They’ve won four straight and looked better and more cohesive than at any other time this season. Even the eight-game winning streak wasn’t this dominant. Back then, the Cavs didn’t possess a shot-blocker like Timofey Mozgov or explosive spot-up shooter like J.R. Smith.
3. There’s a chance the third newcomer, Iman Shumpert, could make his Cavs debut after coming over in the Dion Waiters trade. Shumpert is the type of athletic perimeter defender this franchise hasn’t had for quite some time. He is a game-time decision.
4. The Cavs have scored at least 106 points in each game of the current winning streak and are shooting a combined 50 percent from the floor. Also, James is averaging a whopping 30.6 points in the five games since returning from injury.
5. Basically, when it comes to the Cavs, the numbers go on and on, and show that they’re playing much better and coming closer to the power we all thought they could be. But nothing tells it like a simple eye test. The ball is moving, the defense is tightening, and in the words of Kyrie Irving, the Cavs are having fun.
6. Of course, the Hornets haven’t been too shabby lately themselves. They have won eight of nine and have been bringing center Al Jefferson and guard Lance Stephenson off the bench. Those two are widely considered to be their best players, so it’s been an interesting choice by coach Steve Clifford. But right now, the Hornets are clicking — and as anyone can see, it’s because they have really started to defend.
7. It doesn’t hurt that Kemba Walker is running the point. He is one of the most underrated players in the league, a player who defends and is capable of huge scoring nights. The guy just doesn’t get enough credit.
8. In case you forgot, former Cavs great Mark Price is an assistant with the Hornets. He’s not the only tie to the Cavs, as former Canton Charge coach Steve Hetzel is also an assistant. Hetzel coached the Charge last season and was the Cavs’ video coordinator for three seasons before that.