The last time the Cleveland Cavaliers were in Charlotte, they played a stellar first half only to waste away an 18-point lead in the second half. It got so bad that in the second half that, with only four minutes to, the Cavs were down by one. But down the stretch, Kyrie Irving showed why he is quickly becoming one of the best fourth quarter players in the NBA. In one of his many game winners, Irving saved the Cavaliers from full on implosion against one of the worst teams in the league. Tonight marks the Cavs first trip back to Charlotte since that game.
Opponent’s Blog: Roberto Gato
Venue: Time Warner Cable Arena – Charlotte, North Carolina
Tipoff: 7 PM
Betting Line: Cavs by -6
Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio
Where you can listen: WTAM (1100), WFUN (970 AM)
Since that game, the Cavaliers have been a better team. The record does not indicate that (and nor do the stats), but they just look like a better team. Irving is playing arguably the best basketball of his young career, and recent addition Marresse Speights has quickly become a key player off the bench. Tristan Thompson continues to improve, as does Tyler Zeller. The one frustrating player has been rookie guard Dion Waiters. So far in February, the Syracuse product is shooing an icy 30.0 percent from the field. He’s playing a pretty average consistent 27 minutes a night on average and he just simply is not producing as we would all hope.
As putrid as they have been, the Bobcats do have some good young talent. Guard Kemba Walker, averaging 17.8 points per game, is their best scorer. Fellow guard Ramon Sessions, a former Cavalier, brings stability to their offense in his backup role. Down the stretch, he will also likely play a key role. Charlotte also has two other guards (Ben Gordon and Gerald Henderson) that can put the ball into the hoop. On the wing is where the Bobcats are the most dangerous. Any one of those four guys could light the Cavaliers up offensively – especially considering none of the Cavaliers regular wings (outside of Alonzo Gee) is a solid defender.
However, I think the Cavaliers will have an advantage in this game. First off, as in almost every game, Irving will be the best player on the floor tonight. Thompson, Speights, and Zeller should be able to dominate on the inside against a pretty average Bobcats frontcourt. I would be surprised if the Cavs had any trouble tonight. They just beat one of the best teams in the league, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and won a close game with stellar fourth quarter play. Even if the game is close tonight, Cleveland will carry it. Even if it comes down to the end, they have Irving as the ace in their pocket. And when it comes down to, that is more than the Bobcats can say.