Game On: Hornets at Cavaliers

Published: February 20, 2013

The 19-35 New Orleans Hornets visit Cleveland to take on the 16-37 Cavaliers tonight. The game is on ESPN. Really.

The Cavaliers end their 7 game home stand tonight, during which time they won 3 games then lost 3 games.

The Cavaliers allow the highest FG% in the NBA (49.3% vs. 45.2% for the Hornets, 45.0% for the NBA as a whole). Since they allow three point shots at around the NBA average, the difference is necessarily made up on two point shots. The allow free throw attempts at a normal rate.

Both teams have similar ORtg and DRtg, but the lack of offense from Cleveland’s wings will help offset the lack of firepower since Eric Gordon is missing his seventh game in the 26 opportunities he’s had since returning to the roster (The Hornets are 10-9 with him, 3-3 without in that stretch).

Rookie first rounder Dion Waiters is struggling in his heaving minutes (5th on the team). It will be curious to see how tonight’s starter Rivers plays against him on both sides of the court.

Without Varejao, rookie Tyler Zeller is picking up the center minutes. With second year player Tristan Thompson joining him in the frontcourt, the suddenly-salty vets of Lopez and Smith are primed for big games, along with rookie Anthony Davis.

The Hornets should win this if Vasquez can limit the net loss the Hornets will have at lead guard tonight . . . I’ll say by 10. This is not a knock on Vasquez; Irving is just made to exploit his weaknesses. The Cavaliers’ biggest advantage here will be getting turnovers. They are third in the NBA (14.9% TOV% compared to the NBA average 13.7% and Hornets 13.3%). As shown the Bulls game, this can really end a push to win. I look for that, or Irving deciding to destroy the Hornets, to be the reason for a loss should it come to pass.

Talk it up.

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