David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Tonight at 7:00, the Charlotte Bobcats travel to Quicken Loans Arena to face off against the red hot Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Projected Starting Lineups
PF: Jeff Adrien | Tristan Thompson
History doesn't favor the Bobcats here, not that this comes as a surprise. But the fact remains - Charlotte has only beaten the Cavaliers once in Cleveland. The year was 2010. Charlotte ran an eight-man rotation, with DeSagana Diop receiving 27 minutes, Flip Murray with 24 and D.J. Augustin getting about 13 minutes. Ah, memories.
I wouldn't expect much reversal of fortune here. These contests feature two promising young point guards in Kemba Walker and Kyrie Irving, but as of yet, Irving has consistently gotten the upper hand. Bobcats-Cavaliers games never cease to spark debate about the two, regardless of how inconsequential and silly some of these arguments may be. Whatever. But in head-to-head matchups, things clearly go Irving's way. He scores 26 points with 6 assists on average against Charlotte and Kemba drops a 9 and 3. And the Cavs have won each of these games, of course.
But this isn't just a one-on-one game of 21, though. Anderson Varejao is out the rest of the season with a blood clot in his right lung, but the Cavs brought in journeyman big feller Marreese Speights to give him minutes the Memphis Grizzlies couldn't. To his credit, he's doing very well. Dion Waiters is still pretty hot or cold, but has had some nice games since we last saw him.
The most positive improvement, however, might be Tristan Thompson's. Going into the draft, scouts were wary of him. Some had him pegged as a big future talent in just a few years of development, yet others feared Thompson was just another one of those guys with "potential," that scary buzzword that stings NBA scouts on promising young talent. It certainly seemed rough last season as Thompson traipsed through the lockout-shortened season with a less-than-promising 43.9 percent on field goals and 55.2 percent on free throws. This year hasn't seen him jump to all-star, but his shooting percentages have improved dramatically to 49.7 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from the charity stripe. His rebounding is also up, too. Thompson still isn't a rock solid power forward just yet, and Cleveland fans are assuredly divided on his future, but his progress is nice to see.