Cleveland Cavaliers Game Previews: November 7 - November 13

Cleveland Cavaliers game previews between November 7 and November 13, including games against the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards.

The Cleveland Cavaliers remain the last unbeaten team in the league after the second week of the 2016-2017 NBA regular season. LeBron James has also passed Hakeem 'The Dream' Olajuwon for 10th on the NBA's all-time scoring list. It's been a  great start for Cleveland this year, but nowhere near perfect.

The Cavaliers have been winning, yes, but they have already shown how it is that they will be beaten eventually: stagnation and playing down to their opponent. Two of the Cavaliers closest three games have been against the Orlando Magic and the Philadelphia 76ers. Both games featured bad shooting and offensive stagnation in the second half. The Cavaliers get into offensive sets in the second half where James or Irving will hold the ball for an extended period of time. In the final 10 seconds of the shot clock, an offensive motion will happen. This puts the Cavaliers in the unenviable position of having to put up a heavily contested and inefficient shot at the end of the shot clock; that is not a recipe for success.

On a positive note, Kevin Love has tuned in this year. He is averaging 21.7 points, and 8.5 rebounds a game. Scoring at least 18 points in every game this season, Love is the most consistent scoring threat for the Cavaliers outside of LeBron James. Kyrie Irving is leading the team in scoring, but his averages are down after only scoring eight points against the 76ers.

Atlanta Hawks

Tuesday, 8 November 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Home

The Atlanta Hawks come to Cleveland on Tuesday night for the first time since the Cavaliers buried 25 triples against them in the playoffs last season. The Cavaliers won all seven matchups against the Atlanta Hawks last year, setting an NBA record for the most threes made in a four-game playoff series, burying 77 against the helpless Hawks in May.

This year, the Hawks are a new team: Al Horford is gone, Dwight Howard is in, Jeff Teague is gone, Dennis Schroder is the new long-term point guard in Atlanta, and the Hawks are playing well to start this young season. The Hawks, as of November 6, are 4-2 and have the second best defensive rating (number of points allowed per 100 opponent possessions) in the league. Dwight Howard has been playing very well this year —21.7 points per game and 15.8 rebounds a game while his actual stats are 17 points and 12.3 boards a game in just over 28 minutes a night. 

The Cavaliers have won 11 games in a row against the Hawks (regular and postseason), and as the Hawks come into the Q, the Cavaliers will look to extend their early-season winning streak. The Cavaliers are just two games shy of matching their best start in franchise history at 8-0 back in 1976-1977. Tune in to see if the Cavaliers can keep their winning ways going against the Hawks on Tuesday night.

Washington Wizards

Friday, 11 November 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Away

On November 10, the Cavaliers will be attending the White House for their recognition of winning the NBA Title. This will be James' third trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but for President Obama, the Cavaliers will be the last team he will honor in his tenure. This will could provide a spark for the Cavaliers, or this will be another reason on the list for why this game has "trap game" written all over.

The Wizards have started off the season slow, they have the league's fourth-worst offensive rating at 96.6 points per 100 possessions, they are a bottom-10 team in terms of effective field goal percentage, and they are the league's second-worst team in assists per game. This would likely lead people to believe they're not sharing the ball and not shooting very well, which is leading to their lack of offensive production. This may have something to do with Head Coach Scott Brooks and his offensive philosophy.

During his stint in Oklahoma City (2011-2012 to 2013-2014), the Thunder ranked 24th, 30th, and 21st for assists per game. The Scott Brooks offensive philosophy has always seemed to be that of letting his guys figure it out. With Westbrook and Durant in OKC, he had two supreme shot creators and scorers. In Washington, Beal and Wall just aren't in the same category of player as those two, despite being two good players in their own right. Brooks and his coaching staff need to figure out a way to get more ball movement in the offense as well as figuring out a way to get his best players in positions where they can succeed.

The Cavaliers are a top-10 team in assists per game, so they share the ball well amongst each other. The Cavaliers have shown a propensity to take their foot off the gas when they get up big on an inferior opponent, and this relaxation allows the other team to get back in the game. This is something to watch for because Wall and Beal are better than any of the players on the 76ers at putting the ball in the bucket and scoring in bunches.

Charlotte Hornets

Sunday, 13 November 2016 at 03:30 PM ET Home

LeBron James teams have had no problems with the Hornets team dating back to 2010-2011. In those years, James has lost to a Charlotte team once. The Hornets just seem to be fodder for James and Co., and whether this has something to do with their owner being Michael Jordan, it is unclear. But James has had no problems dispatching the Hornets, again and again, year after year, whether in their current form or when they were the hapless Bobcats.

The Hornets are continuing their play from a year ago, finishing 48-34 in a four-way gaggle that saw them lose three different tie-breakers to finish sixth in the Eastern Conference. They have started the season 4-1 as of November 6, and they have been impressive, to say the least. 

The Hornets take care of the ball, having coughed up the least amount of turnovers in the league this year. They're also rebounding the ball on the defensive end of the floor very well, coming up with 82.8 percent of all possible defensive rebounds, good enough for the second-highest defensive rebound rate in the league. They are also second in assist-to-turnover ratio, averaging just over two assists per turnover. 

One thing to watch in this game is the 'Sunday Effect' on JR Smith. Smith, for his career, is typically much worse than his career averages on Sundays. There are speculations as to why this is, but it is something to look for on Sunday. Also look to see if James can keep his assisting up as he is second in the league, behind James Harden, in assists per game. 

The Cavaliers have been on a roll to start the year, and as Coach Lue looks to try new lineups and combinations, look to see if they can continue their winning streak as the Charlotte Hornets come to the friendly confines of Quicken Loans Arena to close out week three in the NBA. 


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