The Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Bobcats are headed to the NBA Draft Lottery, but before they get their, both teams will finish the regular season Wednesday night in Charlotte.
The Cavaliers have endured a tough season on the injury front. All-Star guard Kyrie Irving missed several games with various maladies and Anderson Varejao, who led the NBA in rebounding when he shut it down for the season after right knee surgery, developed a blood clot on his right lung.
But the Cavs have plenty of young pieces, first and foremost, Irving. He is scoring 22.4 ppg and has emerged as perhaps the best young point guard. Tristan Thompson improved through the season and Dion Waiters enjoyed a fairly successful rookie campaign, averaging 14.6 ppg.
Hope was the message for the fans from head coach Byron Scott after Monday's home finale, a 96-95 setback to the Miami Heat.
"Just be patient. The guys are on the right track," Scott said. "A tough season for all of us and all that happened, but we feel we are still on the right track. Kyrie is still developing to be one of the best point guards. Tristan is definitely developing into a young power forward in this league. Dion, I think we all saw this year, that he can be pretty dynamic at times and he still has a long way to go and some growth. Tyler is going to get better. We missed Andy obviously the whole season long. I think on those things right there, there is definitely potential and hope right there."
The Cavs have lost five straight and had a chance at the end against the Heat, but Norris Cole stripped Irving on the final play. Irving, Waiters and Thompson each scored 16 in the loss.
The Bobcats won their second consecutive game Monday night with a 106-95 home victory over the New York Knicks, who rested most of their key pieces with the playoffs looming.
The victory was the 20th on the season for a Bobcats franchise that won seven games in last season's truncated schedule. Charlotte tied the Orlando Magic for the worst record in the league. The Magic visit the Miami Heat on Wednesday in the race for the most ping-pong balls in the lottery.
"Through this entire journey, nobody talks about our injuries. We have five guys out," head coach Mike Dunlap said. "Without a doubt, we're getting better."
Gerald Henderson led the Bobcats with 27 points, while Kemba Walker added 23 points and 13 assists. Jeff Taylor chipped in 12 off the bench against the Knicks and Josh McRoberts and Bismack Biyombo both scored 10.
The Cavs have won six straight against the Bobcats, including the last two in Charlotte. The Bobcats have won two of their last three at home.