New Orleans Pelicans vs Cleveland Cavaliers: Lineups, preview & prediction 3/30/18

It’s a showdown of two MVP candidates Friday night as LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers host Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers (45-30) will have to do without starting center Kevin Love for at least this game after he entered the concussion protocol Thursday as the result of absorbing an elbow on a drive by Heat center Jordan Mickey in the first quarter Tuesday night that also caused a loose front tooth.

The Cavaliers rebounded from losing Love and that game to the Heat by winning 118-105 at Charlotte on Wednesday night. As expected, LeBron James shouldered more of the scoring load as he finished with 41 points to go with ten rebounds and eight assists. J. R. Smith added 19 points off the bench, hitting eight of nine shots, as Cleveland won for the sixth time in seven games.

Rookie Cedi Osman returned to the rotation after missing nine games with a hip injury and played six minutes. Veteran shooting guard Kyle Korver is expected to return for this game after a five-game bereavement leave following the death of his younger brother.

New Orleans (43-32) have one injury issue of their own as point guard Rajon Rondo could miss a third straight game due to a sprained right wrist. But they had a bigger scare in Tuesday night’s 107-103 home loss to Portland in which Anthony Davis rolled his right ankle in the first half.

He eventually returned to the game and turned in a strong effort with 36 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks, but it was not enough to offset Damian Lillard’s 41-point effort. The Pelicans continue to challenge for home-court advantage in the first round and entered play Thursday fifth in the Western Conference and ahead of the San Antonio Spurs via tiebreaker.

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