Cavs Again Will Have Hands Full With Buzzing Hornets

Finally, the Cavaliers have reached the end of the road. But they have to get through another toughie before they can come back home.Darius Garland Terry Rozier

That would be none other than Monday’s game in Charlotte (7 p.m. EST, Bally Sports Ohio).

You know the story to this point. The Cavs lost their first two. Then they beat the Hawks at home, then the Nuggets and Clippers are on the road.

Just when things were looking really up, the Cavs (3-4) came back down.

They battled with LeBron James and the Lakers for three-and-a-half quarters, before succumbing to experience at the end. Then they almost got run off the court by the defending Western Conference champion Suns, before at least making a game of it.

But still, a loss.

So that leads us to Monday, and the following question — who are the real Cavs?

Are they truly on the rise, or just a collection of young individual talent that’s greatest hope is merely to surprise the occasional overconfident opponent?

We probably won’t have any real answers until midseason, so the best bet is just to focus on the Hornets for now.

We already know about the Cavs — Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Lauri Markkanen, Jarrett Allen and rookie wonder Evan Mobley. With Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love the first men off the bench, there has been some grizzled veteran help off the bench.

Of course, Love will miss time after entering the league’s health and safety protocol. And Isaac Okoro remains out with a hamstring issue.

Meanwhile, the Hornets (5-2) have some major playoff dreams with the likes of reigning Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges and Shaker Heights product Terry Rozier. They already beat the Cavs in Cleveland.

If the Cavs are to have a chance, they can start by taking better care of the ball — often a trouble spot for a younger team. But it’s hard to win on the road when you cough up 19 turnovers, as they did in Phoenix.

“Your offense doesn’t work if you turn the basketball over,” Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff told reporters after the loss to the Suns. “I felt like when fatigue set in, we started pressing and trying to do a lot on our own and against a good team, they’ll make you pay for those things.”

The Hornets are also a good team. The Cavs have proven they have the ability and belief to even their record. This will be a telling test to see if they can do it on a consistent basis on the road.

Cavs Notes

  • Sexton continues to lead the team in scoring despite his average being about seven points less than last season. He’s averaging 17.3 points this year.
  • Rubio is next at 14.0, followed by Garland and Mobley at 13.4 apiece. Garland leads the team in assists at 8.2, while Allen is averaging 9.0 rebounds.
  • On the downside, Sexton is averaging just 1.9 assists to 3.1 turnovers.
  • Final word from Love: “Things aren’t going to be given to us. We’re going to have to fight for everything we get.”

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