Can Cavs protect home floor vs. Hornets?
Central Division-leading Cleveland finally gets a respite from the road, if only briefly, Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena.
On the heels of posting a 110-108 overtime victory at Atlanta, the Cavs host the Hornets at 3:30 p.m. ET. Oddsmakers didn’t feel bullish about LeBron James’ squad as it entered the Peach State, but they’ve come back around for this matinee. Online sports book Bovada.lv lists Cleveland as a 7-point favorite here.
Two nights ago, James racked up 29 points, a season-high 16 boards and nine assists vs. the Hawks. He also zoomed past Oscar Robertson into 11th place on the NBA’s scoring list. Showing an increased willingness to absorb contact, the four-time MVP could singlehandedly ensure that today’s tilt unfolds in a much different manner than when the two teams met on Feb. 3.
Charlotte established a physical tone early in that 106-97 victory despite being without pugnacious guard Kemba Walker. Steve Clifford’s crew outrebounded the Cavaliers by 21, laying the groundwork for an extremely competitive rematch three weeks later.
Cleveland retains a 2-1 edge against the Hornets in the season series, though, with James scoring between 23 and 25 in each game. Tyronn Lue also understands the importance of prevailing in this spot before the East’s No. 1 seed plunges back into two straight away contests vs. Milwaukee, Indiana and Chicago. It’s just enough to make you shun against a Charlotte group whose 14-3 mark since the start of March ranks as the conference’s best.
SUNDAY NBA FREE PICK: CAVALIERS -7