After coming up short in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon the Hornets slipped to sixth in the Eastern Conference standings, temporarily matched with the 44-32 Miami Heat.
With six regular season contests remaining, there are numerous storylines emerging that could have significant playoff implications. Below are some thoughts on Sunday’s game as well as other headlines surrounding the Hornets.
1. The Hornets are a very good basketball team. The Cavs are better. Despite playing without a resting Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and the Cavaliers' talent was on full display Sunday afternoon. The Cavs put on an offensive clinic which resulted in a remarkable 34 total assists and 55% shooting from beyond the arc.
2. Center Al Jefferson was inactive for the Hornets due to a quad contusion, and is listed as day-to-day. Spencer Hawes and his man-bun attempted to fill the void by the absent Al, providing 9 points and 9 boards in 19 minutes of game time.
3. Fresh off a triple-double performance in Philadelphia on Friday, Nic Batum exited Sunday’s game in the first half due to a strained left knee and did not return. Fortunately for the Hornets, head coach Steve Clifford does not expect it to keep Nic sidelined for long.
4. Some hometown flavor is always welcome when watching a local telecast, but Fox Sports South announcers Eric Collins and Stephanie Ready were a bit much Sunday afternoon in Cleveland. From critiquing officials to handing Charlotte’s defense all the credit for Lebron’s apparent admiration of the fade-away jumper in the second half, it was exhausting.
5. Down 21 in the first half, Kemba Walker almost single-handedly erased this deficit with an NBA Jam-like third quarter. Kemba accumulated 15 points in the frame, finishing at the rim and displaying his utterly lethal crossover at times. The only thing missing from Walker’s video game third quarter performance was a flaming basketball.
6. For some happier news, the Hornets clinched a playoff spot over the weekend when the Chicago Bulls fell to the Detroit Pistons. This is just the third postseason appearance for the franchise in the last 12 seasons.
7. The heart of the Eastern Conference standings is currently tighter than one of Louie Anderson’s neckties. SB Nation does a solid job breaking down all of the potential tiebreaker scenarios for the Hornets.
8. Regardless of what happens in the postseason, this will be a momentous offseason for Michael Jordan and his management team. Only about half of the roster is currently under contract for the 2016-17 season, with several big names entering free agency. The biggest decision will likely be how much cash to throw in Nic Batum’s direction.
9. In “Way Too Premature Draft News”, NBADraft.net currently has Charlotte selecting Baylor forward Taurean Prince late in the first round. Compared to DeMarre Carroll due to his length and athleticism, he could be a nice fit in the Hornets high-energy offense.
10. Prince also knows exactly what a rebound is, so that’s good news. After being asked how Yale outrebounded Baylor in their first-round tournament loss to the Bulldogs, he had this to say: “You go up and grab the ball off the rim when it comes off, and then you grab it with two hands, and you come down with it, and that's considered a rebound. So they got more of those than we did.”