Roster depth might matter more than ever on Wednesday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Hornets play in Charlotte, N.C.
Cleveland has been coping without some of its key players in recent games. The roster situation became even more dire this week for the Hornets.
Guard Terry Rozier (knee injury) and forward P.J. Washington (ankle) were the team’s latest players to be missing from game action.
“I have no idea (if they will play Wednesday),” Charlotte coach James Borrego said.
Both the Cavaliers and Hornets have lost two games in a row.
“A lot more energy and effort,” Cavaliers forward Dean Wade said of the team’s performance in Sunday’s 116-109 setback to the New Orleans Pelicans.
It’s unclear if the Cavaliers will have leading scorers Collin Sexton (left-groin strain) and Darius Garland (right-ankle sprain) back in action after they missed Sunday’s game. Sexton averages 24.1 points per game and Garland 16.9.
“We’ve been suffering almost the whole season with injuries,” Cleveland forward Cedi Osman said. “We know how we have to play.”
Wade picked up some of the slack with a career-best 21 points.
The Hornets have played their past three games against injury-ravaged lineups, defeating the Milwaukee Bucks before losing to the Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Lakers.
The injury bug has infected the Hornets has well. Charlotte started its 15th different lineup of the season.
“We have to keep battling,” Borrego said. “We can’t hang our heads.”
Caleb Martin moved into Charlotte’s starting lineup and posted 17 points and a career-high 10 rebounds against the Lakers, who won 101-93 on Tuesday.
“He gave us good minutes,” Borrego said. “He gave us what he could.”
Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff continues to stress leadership even with an unstable roster at times because of injuries.
Jarrett Allen (concussion protocol) and Larry Nance Jr. (illness) could be ready to return to action on Wednesday. Neither player has been in a game since March.
The Cavaliers, who have won their past two road games, are looking forward to having a more complete roster.
“I just think we have a lot of guys that can really just play the game, a lot of guys that can feed off each other,” forward Isaiah Hartenstein said. “A lot of guys that can just play basketball.”
With oft-injured forward Kevin Love back on the court, the Cavaliers are counting on opposing teams to take a different approach on defense.
“When K-Love is hitting, it’s unbelievable,” Wade said. “It’s fun to watch.”
The Cavaliers have been idle since Sunday, although their game versus Charlotte is the opening act of back-to-back games. Cleveland will host the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.
Cleveland won its season opener with a 121-114 victory over the Hornets on Dec. 23.
–Field Level Media