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Mar 26, 2024 1:08 pm

Cavaliers seeking to repeat defensive success vs. Hornets

cavaliers hornets

The Cleveland Cavaliers have had some rough stretches lately, but they found the right formula against the Charlotte Hornets.

Now it’s a matter of repeating it.

The teams meet for the second time in three nights when they clash Wednesday in Charlotte.

The Cavaliers (44-28) are trying to get into the right groove with the postseason just a few weeks away.

“The most important thing for us is to be healthy,” Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Our focus right now with the group that we have is that we continue to just pay attention to our habits.”

The Cavaliers ended a three-game losing streak with Monday’s night’s 115-92 home romp. That didn’t surprise Bickerstaff because he has maintained belief in the team.

“I’m not going to take away from what our guys have done to get us to this point,” he said.

The Cavaliers have gone three consecutive games without a player on their team reaching the 20-point mark. But that doesn’t really seem to matter a whole lot.

“Their defense is terrific,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. “That’s their calling card.”

The Hornets (17-54), owners of a five-game losing streak, are coming off an 0-4 road swing. Just getting back on their homecourt could be a plus.

Wednesday’s game will come after Charlotte played 13 of 17 games on the road.

“We’ve got to get refreshed,” Clifford said. “We’ve played two really tired games. We need to get home and get refreshed and try to finish on a high note.”

Dealing with the Cavaliers in the lane and around the basket is a challenge.

“With all their size, you got to make the right play,” Clifford said. “They’re great defensively with a lot of length and very disciplined. They protect the paint.”

The Cavaliers are playing with some intensity, even if it has developed into certain problems. Forward Marcus Morris Sr. was ejected from Monday night’s game because of a rough foul on Hornets center Nick Richards.

“I’m just trying to set the tone,” Morris said of bringing energy and aggressiveness. “We’re going to need that. I just want to keep being tough.”

Cleveland forward Evan Mobley said the team is aware of the urgency of getting up to speed by the time the playoffs begin.

“We had a bounce-back game and I felt like everyone felt good,” Mobley said. “We’ve got to play with that joy.”

In Monday’s game, it stayed close until the Cavaliers started executing on offense with greater efficiency.

“Their cutting baskets, just one-on-one stuff,” Clifford said. “The cutting stuff, the body position off the ball, they did a good job.”

The Hornets received 24 points from rookie Brandon Miller. He seems to be remaining strong even at the end of his first NBA season, scoring 20 or more points in five of Charlotte’s 11 games so far this month.

“He’s really scoring in every way,” Clifford said of Miller. “He’s very explosive.”

Miller was 5-for-5 on free throws Monday, matching his largest number of free throw attempts across a 16-game span.

–Field Level Media

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