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Game On: Hornets @ Cavaliers – and Gordon’s Knee
The Hornets finish their only back-to-back-to-back tonight in Cleveland before everyone heads home for All-star Weekend and a nice rest until next Tuesday. I give you the keys to victory in tonight’s game.
Both teams played last night, with rookie Kyrie Irving driving Cleveland to a last second win over Detroit. The Hornets, of course, played overtime against the Pacers. Neither team will be that fresh.
So far this year, Cleveland has been a bit of a surprise, mostly due to the return of the heavily under-rated defense of Anderson Varejao and the impressive scoring efficiency of the aforementioned Irving. Irving has actually drawn some comparisons to Chris Paul in his rookie season, though those are driven more because of PER similarities, not game similarities. Paul earned a high PER by being a complete PG, rebounding, stealing, assisting and scoring at a decent rate. Irving is earning his by scoring often and efficiently. Really, his mold is more Derrick Rose than CP3.
Still, how do the Hornets take out the cavaliers? The Ryan Schwan Keys to Victory:
- Crash the defensive boards. Cleveland is the second best offensive rebounding team in the league, hauling in 29% of available offensive boards. The Hornets will have to focus on this – something they’ve had a problem doing with Okafor and his strong defensive rebound rate on the bench.
- Limit the fouls. Other than Irving’s efficient scoring, the Cavaliers typically gain a small offensive edge every game by drawing a high number of fouls and sinking their free throws. The Hornets give up a high free-throw rate. If they want to win this game, they’ll need to concentrate on not fouling.
- On the pick and roll, chase Irving over the pick and have the big play a little soft on him. Irving is deadly at the rim and from three. Don’t give him those two shots, make him take mid-range shots, where he is weak for a guard. He’s also not too likely to hit a streaking big on the pick and roll either. Only Varejao dives appropriately, but Irving’s instincts aren’t “pass” anyways.
Lastly, from the Times-Picayune:
Eric Gordon has been out for most of the season due to a bad right knee and he finally cleared up the mystery regarding the injury. The Hornets have said Gordon has a bruised knee, but he revealed Wednesday that he had cartilage damage.
“First off, you can label it as a bone bruise, or say so,” Gordon told The Times-Picayune. “Of course, it was a little more serious than that. It was a little bit of cartilage damage that came about, but nothing more serious than that. I had a little cartilage debris. That happens when you have damage to a cartilage, and that was that — and I needed it. I’ve never had surgery before. All you can do is listen to the doctors as far as moving forward, and I know the timing sucked, but no one knew how serious it was. We went through multiple doctors, and the only way we could find out is (to) go in there.”
Gordon has only played in two games for the Hornets and he admitted to the newspaper that the knee was hurting prior to the trade from the Los Angeles Clippers in December.
“At that time I thought it was nothing serious because I was fine and nothing was swollen,” Gordon said.