Game On: Cavaliers @ Hornets (Updated with Monty and Byron Quotes)

Published: November 19, 2010

Expect the Hive to be buzzing tonight as the 9-1 Hornets welcome back the coach of their most successful team in franchise history (well… before this year) to New Orleans. Say what you say about the guys in game adjustments, infrequent use of timeouts, and stoic sideline demeanor- he did have a magical season in 07-08 that no Hornet fan will ever forget. For that (and perhaps that alone), I say we do the classy thing and offer a little golfers clap laced with a slightly condescending undertone if his OKC or LA comments got under your skin.

As for the game itself, we can rest assured that nearly everyone in the building will be there to see the Hornets. In case you haven’t heard yet, due to a relative lack of coverage in my opinion, the so-called King left Cleveland and took his talents elsewhere. Surprisingly, the Cavaliers have responded by playing some pretty good basketball despite their general lack of talent. This group plays hard for Coach Scott and gets by offensively with a relatively balanced scoring attack.

Where the Hornets have the potential to dominate this game is on the glass, as Cleveland comes into this game ranked 28th in the league in rebounding. Anderson Varejao is an elite level hustle guy who can be a menace on the boards, but other than him Cleveland doesn’t really have a physical presence. If the Hornets are successful in limiting 2nd chance points for Cleveland, it is very possible that this game could be a blowout.

As for the Matchups:

Point Guard

Daniel Gibson/Ramon Sessions vs. Chris Paul

It is possible that Mo Williams might be back tonight, but even if he is good to go, Gibson and Sessions will probably get plenty of time. A forgotten man the past year or two, Gibson has probably benefitted the most from the departure of James and the arrival of Scott. He has more than doubled his shots per game and his PPG this season, while more than tripling his APG. With all that said, this might be the biggest mismatch we have seen all year with the possible exception of the Clippers sticking rookie Eric Bledsoe on CP3.

Advantage: Hornets

Shooting Guard

Anthony Parker vs. Marco Belienlli

Parker is the only Cav in the rotation who does not register a PER in the double digits. He is one of the 3 or 4 worst starting two guards in the league and in all honesty, he is probably better suited for a back-up role where he gets half the minutes he sees in Cleveland. Meanwhile, Belly has been heating up as of late from deep and has been a revelation on the defensive end. Expect him to eat Parker’s lunch tonight, cookies and all.

Advantage: Hornets

Small Forward

Jamario Moon vs. Trevor Ariza

6 foot 8, 200 pounds. Lanky and athletic wing player who can fill the lane and prides himself on defense. Both Ariza and Moon fit the profile, however Ariza offers a better blend of skills and the ability to knock down shots from deep.

Advantage: Hornets

Power Forward

JJ Hickson vs. David West

Last year when the Cavaliers were looking for a PF to put next to James, David West’s name came up and the key piece supposed to come back (along with cap relief) was JJ Hickson. In the end, Cleveland didn’t want to part with Hickson (even for Amare) and Hornets management decided to keep West. Tonight the two face off in what should be the best battle of the night. Hickson is more athletically gifted, but from people I have talked to in the league, the inside scoop is that the guy doesn’t have the highest IQ in the world. Because of this, he has been getting the Byron Scott treatment in the media and could be the Cavs JR Smith. Scott will continue to take jabs that will turn into uppercuts and soon enough he will break his confidence and sit him in favor of some washed up has been. For tonight, though, expect Hickson’s length and quickness to give West some trouble. I think Monty will counter by putting David in the post and having him outwork the young guy.

Advantage: Hornets (by slight margin)


Anderson Varejao vs. Emeka Okafor

Varejao will be flopping around all night, so don’t be surprised if Okafor picks up some early fouls and is wearing that confused scowl that he likes to sport after a call goes against him. Skill wise, Okafor has the advantage here but there are few players with the heart and tenacity Varejao brings on a nightly basis.

Advantage: Push


The Cavs have plenty of offensive firepower coming off the bench in Antawn Jamison, Boobie Gibson, Ramon Sessions, and even Ryan Hollins who is averaging more than a point per 2 mins. The Hornets counter with the steadiness of Willie Green and Jason Smith combined with the inconsistent efforts of the rest of the Pine Riders. It’s possible Peja plays 25 minutes, and it’s possible he will be inactive. It’s possible Bayless can play like a stud against a bad team like he did against the Clippers and it is possible he can turn the ball over like Brett Favre all night. You really just don’t know what you will get from the Hornets bench outside of the two ex-76ers.

Advantage: Cavs

Vegas Zone

Hornets are 9 point favorites going into this game, which is a huge difference considering that they were 7 point underdogs the last time these two met just 8 months ago. Bet Byron looks to the home bench and wishes he would have spent more time in the office and less on the golf course, huh?

Hornets are 8-1-1 against the spread this year and have gone over the projected total points the last 3 games after going under in six of their first seven. It is safe to say that Vegas is still trying to figure out these Hornets and in the meantime, there is some money to be made.

The over/under for tonight is 192.5. I would actually take the under and take the Hornets -9. I have a hard time seeing where Cleveland gets their offense from and I think the pace of the game will be slow considering who the two head coaches are. Let’s say Hornets 99 Cavs 83.

Mr. Hollinger

I know most can’t stand the guy and his opinions, but Johnny Boy actually gives us some love in his playoff odds. In addition to giving the Hornets a 99.5% chance of making the playoffs, he lists the Hornets as the 3rd most likely team to win the title as of today.

Pre-Game/ In- Game

Monty’s Pre-Game

* Said that there is no way the Hornets will look past the Cavs and that they are not thinking about the upcoming road trip. There is a singular focus- beating Cleveland tonight.

* Isn’t worried about Cleveland “playing for Coach Scott”. He said that he expects the same out of his guys each and every night and if they play their game, it doesn’t really matter what the other team does. He also made it a point to say that he didn’t ask the team to play any different for him when they went against Portland or San Antonio- every opponent deserves the same amount of respect and focus.

* I asked him if we can expect to see a lot of the “switch everything” defensive approach that we saw in the last few minutes of the Dallas game. He said he wasn’t a big believer in that philosophy until he got to Portland and Nate reminded him about how those old Sonics teams would give teams fits with that style. He doesn’t see it as a “gimmic”; instead, it’s just something different to throw at times to give them something else to think about.

* Says he sees a lot of similarities between what Byron did with his offensive sets here and what they do in Cleveland. (And I see a lot of similarities between Batman 1 and Batman 2, but one had Jack Nicholson as the villain and the other had Danny Devito. Point is, Scott can try the same stuff, but Mo Williams and Sessions aint gonna give him the results CP3 will)

Mr. Byron Scott

* Has fond memories of his time here and is proud of everything they accomplished. Specifically listed CP3, Chandler, and ‘Sual as his favorites.

* Said he gave CP3 the “keys to the car” after his first season and CP3 made him look good.

* Doesn’t think CP3 is bothered by people saying he is no longer the top PG in the league and he will just use that as motivation.

* Likes where he is in Cleveland, and thinks it was a great opportunity with or without LeBron. Says they have a game plan moving forward and they have the full support of management.

* Spent 10 minutes chatting with Peja in the hallway. (Hey Coach Scott, if you love him so much, how ’bout you give us Andy V and some cap filler for him!!)


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