When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA
Injuries: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (out), Marvin Williams (out), Gary Neal (out), P.J. Hairston (probable), Thabo Sefolosha (probable)
How did we even get here?
The Charlotte Hornets have the second worst losing streak in the league (4-13 record, eight-game losing streak), behind only the tank machine that is the Philadelphia 76ers. Tonight, the Hornets take on the middling Atlanta Hawks (8-6).
The Hornets have faced a myriad of injuries early in the season, and along with acclimating new and old pieces to an adapted system, they simply haven't been able to get into a groove. The Hornets have also already played 10 games against the Western Conference this season, which is no easy task for any team in the East.
The last time the Hornets played the Hawks, the game went to double overtime, and Lance Stephenson's buzzer-beating 3-pointer edged the Hornets to a 122-119 victory. Since then, the Hornets have won only one game — an unlikely win against the Phoenix Suns.
The Hawks are a good team that is beginning to develop an identity on both ends of the floor. They're led by a quartet of Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, and Kyle Korver. These players have been overlooked and underestimated by the league for various reasons, so it's nice to see the Hawks putting it all together. They're certainly not a contender, but the foundation is set.
Much like the last time these two teams played, the game will be decided by whether or not the Hornets can limit the Hawks' equal opportunity offense. Six of their players are averaging more than 10 points per game, but no one player is averaging more than 19. Five players had an effective field goal percentage of more than 57.1 the last time these two teams met. They're a difficult team to guard as a result.
Luckily, the Hawks struggled to contain Al Jefferson in their first matchup. Jefferson went off for 34 points and 9 rebounds with a true shooting percentage of 61.8. Tonight, the Hornets will likely look for Jefferson to lead them to a win once again. Let's just hope they don't need a banked 3-pointer from Stephenson to get it.