Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Charlotte Hornets Pick & Prediction APRIL 14th 2024

The Cleveland Cavaliers will tune up for the playoffs on Sunday afternoon when they host the Charlotte Hornets in the regular-season finale.

Cleveland clinched a playoff berth with Friday night’s victory against the Indiana Pacers, and the Cavaliers could be hitting another gear at just the right time.

“We should celebrate this accomplishment because everybody has worked hard to make this happen,” center Jarrett Allen said. “But the job is not done.”

The Cavaliers (48-33) trail first-place Milwaukee by one game in the Central Division. Even though the teams split four regular-season games, Cleveland owns the division tiebreaker if the teams end with the same record.

However, the New York Knicks also are a game up on the Cavaliers in the overall Eastern Conference playoff picture, and they hold a tiebreaker edge on Cleveland.

Either way, the Cavaliers will hold a top-four seed and have the home-court edge in the first round.

Cleveland is looking to win three in a row for the first time since a nine-game streak from Jan. 26-Feb. 10.

The push to clinch a good playoff slot came with a grind that was on display Friday.

“It wasn’t just the pretty stuff,” Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “It wasn’t the easy stuff. They came out and did the difficult stuff time and time again.”

While the Cavaliers are playing games with playoff implications, the Hornets (20-61) weren’t involved in one of those situations with Friday night’s 131-98 loss at Boston.

Sunday’s game will mark the final assignment for Hornets coach Steve Clifford, who is ending his coaching role for the organization and is expected to move into a front-office position.

He’d like to see a crisp performance from a team that has been ravaged by injuries and has used countless makeshift lineups. The outing in Boston highlighted some of those troubles.

“There was an unwillingness to move the ball to the open man,” Clifford said. “Then the rebounding, they crushed us on the glass. We’re going to struggle to rebound without Nick (Richards) and Grant (Williams) anyways.”

Clifford used various combinations as 12 Charlotte players logged at least 12 minutes apiece.

“Everybody’s going to play. We want to give everybody a chance,” Clifford said. “That’s not an easy way to play for any of them. I thought we competed fine. We can play better, which is what we need to try and do on Sunday.”

Donovan Mitchell is averaging 26.6 points per game for the Cavaliers, leading the team in scoring in the past two games. He poured in 29 points in a 110-98 victory over Memphis on Wednesday and 33 points in a 129-120 win over Indiana on Friday.

The Cavaliers and Hornets split back-to-back games in late March, each team winning at home. Charlotte has won just three of its last 10 games, including its 118-111 triumph against Cleveland on March 27.

Allen was Cleveland’s leading scorer in both of those games against the Hornets, with 17 and 24 points. He hasn’t had a game-high point total for the Cavaliers since then.

–Field Level Media

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