Add Cavaliers -10 to NBA Picks as they Battle Hornets Tonight

David Lawrence

Monday, December 15, 2014 12:44 PM UTC

Monday, Dec. 15, 2014 12:44 PM UTC

The Charlotte Hornets are stuck in a rut and have not yet to break free of it. Can they find a spark against the Cleveland Cavaliers? Playing against LeBron James and the rest of the Cavs has brought out the best in other struggling teams such as the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks. Can Charlotte pull a surprise? They’re a huge dog according to the NBA betting lines, though.

The Charlotte Hornets Can Win Because...
Their problems might give way to a confident effort against Cleveland. The target created by the Cavs inspires lowly teams to do well when going into LeBron James’ building. Denver, the Knicks – these are two teams who have won road games in Cleveland this season, among some others. The Cavs have lost to the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors at home, but they’ve also been picked off by subpar teams, so Charlotte certainly shouldn’t be written off here.

There’s a very specific situation which points to why the Hornets might be able to win this game. Lance Stephenson is, according to reports, being shopped by the Hornets, who could possibly send him back to the Indiana Pacers or one of a few other select teams in the Eastern Conference. Stephenson has not yet been dealt, so when he takes the court for this game, he will get a chance to play LeBron, a player he loved to antagonize when he was playing with the Pacers against LeBron’s Miami Heat in previous seasons, especially in the Eastern Conference Finals. Stephenson got to play LeBron twice in that round of the playoffs. If Stephenson leaves the Hornets, he’ll at least want to play a big game on Monday, showing a potential new team (or maybe the Pacers, his old team) just how valuable he can be. Stephenson has a great incentive to do well, and that’s what can carry the Hornets here.

The Cleveland Cavaliers Can Win Because…
They're the much better team, and what’s fundamentally obvious about Cleveland right now is that it has learned how to play together. The Cavaliers have won eight of their last 10 games. They’ve improved on defense to the point that they’re no longer allowing at least 100 points a game. They’ve shaved that number down to 99.4 points per game. This team always figured to be a powerhouse on offense and a liability on defense, but if the Cavaliers ever improved on defense and became a tougher team with a more resilient mentality, it was going to be very hard to handle. The NBA has seen this become a reality over the past two weeks.

In contrast to the Cavs, the Hornets have just not gotten off the ground. They had won two straight games to move to 6-15, but they then lost two straight games after that to fall downward in the standings. The Hornets are listed in the NBA odds 2-8 in their last 10 games. They remain stuck at under 95 points per game on offense, and their point differential has slipped to minus-7.2 points per game. They’re also 1-9 on the road. Cleveland should fancy its chances here.

The Lance Stephenson angle is not enough to help Charlotte. The Hornets are a terrible road team, and Cleveland – despite losing two in a row entering this game – is a much-improved team compared to the one that showed up in the first three weeks of the regular season. Take the Cavs with your NBA picks.

Free NBA Pick: Cleveland -10 at 5Dimes

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