On Wednesday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers(20-34) got a glimpse of what this team could be when they are entirely healthy. Cleveland got Larry Nance Jr. and Jarrett Allen back against the Charlotte Hornets(27-27), and while they were missing their leading scorer Collin Sexton(Left groin strain), it did not matter.
The Cavaliers got a game-high 25 points from Taurean Prince off the bench. Kevin Love and Darius Garland had 17 points apiece, and Jarrett Allen chipped in with 15 points and eight rebounds as Cleveland defeated the Hornets on the road 103-90.
Terry Rozier led the Hornets with 22 points.
Cleveland had 27 assists on 37 made field goals, led by Garland’s seven assists.
“It was fun for me,” Garland said after the game. “I was just making different reads and making plays.”
Cleveland moved to two games behind the 10th-seeded Bulls for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
According to Allen, who returned after missing eight games due to a concussion, the Cavs will do whatever they can to get into the play-in tournament.
“We have 18 games to go, and we’re going to fight to get into that play-in game,” Allen said.
Garland added: “I think you will see the best basketball from us as we try to make a playoff push.”
At this point, it should be interesting to see what the Cavs look like at full strength, and they will pretty much be at full strength when Sexton returns.
After Thursday’s showdown against the Warriors, Cleveland will have an interesting eight-game stretch, which will include games against Bulls(2x), Wizards(2x), and the Raptors. The Bulls are the 10th seed, Washington is the 12th seed, and the Raptors are the 11th seed, so these games are an excellent opportunity for Cleveland to move up the Eastern Conference standings.
However, no matter what happens, it will be good for this young group to be involved in playoff-caliber basketball, which could help the young players going forward.
Nance Jr. returned after missing seven games due to illness. He scored five points in 20 minutes off the bench against the Hornets.
Love recorded his 8,000th career rebound on Wednesday night. He is just the fifth player in NBA history with 13,000 points, 8,000 rebounds, and 1,000 three-point made field goals, joining LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Antawn Jamison and Jason Kidd.