Game On: Hornets @ Cavaliers

Published: March 6, 2011

Matchup: Hornets(36-28) @ Cavaliers(12-49)

Off Efficiency: Hornets 103.5(18th), Cavaliers 99.5(28th)
Def Efficiency: Hornets 100.8(6th), Cavaliers 110.2(30th)

Since the epic 26-game losing streak the Cavaliers have gotten some of their injured players back and managed to return closer to what we saw from them the first 17 games of the season: Near .500 ball.  Honestly, I’ve always felt that is a much more realistic evaluation of their talent.  As much of a stars league as this is, LeBron James isn’t actually worth 40 wins over the course of a season.  25?  Sure.  40? No.

So the lesson is not to take the team lightly.  They aren’t starting replacement level talent anymore.  It’s not brilliant talent by any means, but it’s been good enough to earn wins over the Lakers and Knicks(twice) over the past couple weeks.

As for the Hornets, it’s actually been somewhat bizarre how steady their offense has been.  They’ve been sitting at 103.5 points per 100 posessions for about three weeks now without it moving at all.  Now, this late in the season, it usually doesn’t shift that much, but usually it shifts SOME. Defensively, the Hornets have slipped, and that continues to be their primary issue.  If that defense is operating at full strength, the offense can sputter a little and still be enough.  If it continues the way it has the past three weeks, the Hornets lose.


Cavaliers: Semih Erden is out. Boobie Gibson is out.  Antawn Jamison is out.
Hornets: Ariza is out.  West is questionable. I will run this preview as if Landry is starting.

Positional Analysis

PG: Ramon Sessions v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Ramon Sessions is the best player in Cleveland, and he’s very strong on the pick and roll.  If Paul doesn’t keep up the energy he displayed in Memphis,  Sessions is going to wreck the Hornets at the point of attack.  While you’ll look at sessions and not see the most tremendous shooting percentages, all you need to see is that he draws almost 6 free throws a game, and hits them at a high rate.  That’s one of the higest rates for Point Guards in the league, and its makes him trouble.

SG: Anthony Parker v Marco Belinelli
Advantage:  Even
Parker is a nice shooter, but he’s gotten old and the rest of his game is no longer as strong as it once was.  He’ll still give the Cavaliers a few savvy passes for easy buckets, and probably draw a charge, but Belinelli should be able to play him to a standstill.  If the Belinelli we’ve seen the past few games shows us (consistency is always a question) then this position swings in our favor.
SF: Alonzo Gee v Quincy Pondexter
Advantage: Cavaliers
Neither produces near anything, and play because they don’t make totally stupid mistakes defensively.  Gee has at least proven he can hit his three point shooting.  Pondexter . . . well, honestly, he hasn’t shown anything consistently, yet.

PF: Samardo Samuels v Carl Landry
Advantage: Hornets
If you haven’t heard of Samardo, don’t feel bad.  He’s only played 25 games for the Cavaliers this year, but gets the nod as Jamison is out for 5-7 weeks after surgery.  He’s an energy guy who likes to mix it up for rebounds, but is only moderately successful at it.  Landry should be able to beast him for easy points in the paint.

C: JJ Hickson v Emeka Okafor
Advantage: Hornets
JJ was the hang-up for the Cavaliers trading for Amare Stoudemire.  As always, people overrate their own players.  JJ is a nice rebounder, a solid finisher on the pick and roll, and has a very low Basketball IQ, getting out of position consistently.  Expect a nice block or two, and a few dunks, but Emeka should be able to handle his business and as long as JJ can’t feed off an explosive Sessions attack the Hornets should take this matchup.

Baron Davis, Luke Harangody, Christian Eyenga, Ryan Hollins, Manny Harris v
Aaron Gray, Jason Smith, Willie Green, Jarrett Jack
Advantage: Even

With the Hornets missing their primary big man, the again will give up any advantages they had in the paint off the bench.  Harangody has been shooting lights out as a Cavalier, and Hollins is active, if somewhat inept.  Baron Davis also played his first game as a Cavalier against the Knicks, and ran the offense well – even if he did jack up too many shots.  Like he always does.

Let’s hope the energy stays high and the Hornets don’t take this team lightly.  Enjoy the game!


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