CAVALIERS AT BOBCATS, 7 P.M. ET

TV: League Pass

  • The Bobcats snapped their 18-game losing streak with a surprising road win against the Bulls on Dec. 31, but still have lost 10 straight at Time Warner Cable Arena. The Bobcats have already eclipsed their win total from last season. Charlotte will have a good chance to pick up the win as a team that’s struggling just as much comes to town in the Cleveland Cavaliers. The teams are a combined 15-49 and are 3-17 in their last 20 games.
  • Charlotte has struggled this year in keeping with rebounding on the defensive end of the court. On the other hand, Cleveland ranks second in the NBA in second-chance points with almost 17 points per outing. However the Cavs they will be without Anderson Varejao who is out with a right knee contusion. He currently leads the NBA in rebounding at 14.4 per game. Currently the Cavs are denying that he will be sidelined even longer with a torn quad as some media outlets in Brazil are reporting. Tyler Zeller should get the start in his place as he has previously. In Varejao’s absence, Zeller is averaging 11.6 points and 7.0 rebounds.
  • The Bobcats other glaring weakness is their 3-point defense. They ranks last in the NBA in 3-pointers allowed (9.5) and 29th in 3-point field goal defense (38.9 percent). Cleveland ranks 9th in the league in made 3-point baskets at 7.7 and is led by Kyrie Irving, C.J. Miles and Daniel Gibson who all average almost 2 made 3-pointers per game. Miles knocked down eight in one-game earlier this season. Cleveland will also be without Gibson (concussion) for the third straight game which could ease up the issues on the perimeter defense for the Bobcats.
  • Irving and Kemba Walker will serve as the marquee matchup Friday. Irving is a dynamic player who ranks among the league leaders in scoring and is an effective passer as well while Walker has been the catalyst for the Bobcats’ offense and has shown glimpses of what made him an elite college player at UConn. Each player leads its team in scoring and assists.
  • Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will be back on the court Friday for Charlotte after sitting out the team’s win in Chicago on December 31 with a scratched right cornea. MKG is averaging 10.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in his rookie campaign. Charlotte might also see the return of Tyrus Thomas (left calf strain) Friday. Thomas has been out of the lineup since November 17. The Bobcats will be without the services of Byron Mullens (left ankle sprain).

– Derek Smith

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