NBA world accuses Cavs of intentionally losing to Hornets: ‘Loser move for a loser franchise’

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA world reacted on social media amid speculation that the Cleveland Cavaliers intentionally lost their final game of the 2023-24 regular season to the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday in order to face the Orlando Magic in the first round of the playoffs.

With playoff seeding on the line, the Cavaliers opted to sit arguably their two best players in Donovan Mitchell (left knee) and Darius Garland (back) despite the fact that both appeared in Cleveland’s game against the Indiana Pacers two days earlier.

The Cavaliers lost by a score of 120-110 to a Hornets team that had little to play for at this stage of the regular season. Charlotte was also without several of its top talents, as players like LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges, Brandon Miller and Grant Williams did not participate in the game.

Rookie guard Nick Smith Jr. scored a team-high 24 points on 9-of-20 shooting from the field and 6-of-11 shooting from 3-point range for the Hornets, while forward Georges Niang led the way for the Cavaliers from a scoring perspective with 16 points in about 23 minutes of playing time off the Cleveland bench.

The two teams that may have inspired the Cavaliers to take it easy against the Hornets — the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers — seemingly both have what it takes to make some noise in the playoffs. Cleveland’s loss on Sunday allowed the team to avoid the possibility of a first-round matchup against either of those teams.

The 76ers — led by big man Joel Embiid — have reached the second round of the playoffs in each of the past three seasons. As for the Heat, they are fresh off an appearance in the 2023 NBA Finals despite entering those playoffs as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Cavaliers, on the other hand, did not qualify for the 2022 playoffs and were eliminated by the New York Knicks in the first round of the 2023 playoffs.

Cleveland’s first-round opponent is now set in stone in light of its loss to the Hornets, as the team will have home-court advantage versus Paolo Banchero and the Orlando Magic.

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Jesse is an aspiring sports journalist that has previously worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.