When: Wednesday 7 PM
Where: Charlotte, Time Warner Cable Arena
How to watch it: Fox Sports South and NBA League Pass
It was just a little over a month ago when your Charlotte Hornets beat the Phoenix Suns on the road 103-95. Some might remember this game as the #BringBackTheBiz game. Bismack Biyombo returned to the rotation and put up 11 points, 10 rebounds (5 offensive), 2 assists and went 5-for-6 from the line in just 14 minutes of playing time. In that game, the Hornets also started P.J. Hairston and Lance Stephenson on the wings, with Marvin Williams at power forward, and despite the extra spacing started the game off to another slow start (the score was 28-14 Phoenix at the end of the first).
The bench unit, led by Stephenson and Biyombo pick-and-rolls, ignited the offense in the second quarter and the team never really looked back. However, other than the slow start it was basically a perfect game for the Hornets. Just seven turnovers, 21 assists, 18-for-19 from the charity stripe and 7-for-16 from distance. In the NBA, team's rarely play perfectly all the time, so what at a minimum has to go right for the Hornets to win?
First, the team should try to avoid going into a big hole early. The Suns are averaging 33 3-point attempts per game during their last six games and the Hornets have been allowing opponents to shoot 43.6 percent from distance during that same span. If Charlotte can't stop the penetration of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic early, they may find themselves behind at the start for the fourth straight game.
Secondly, the offense with Al Jefferson in the game has to be more organized. Far too many times in the last few games, the guys surrounding Jefferson don't appear confident with the offensive game plan. For example, open shooters are passing up shots, players are unwilling to risk passes to Jefferson deep in the post, no one is hitting the roll man, and the ball is sticking far too often. Someone needs to step up and get the team in rhythm early and that player should probably be Kemba Walker.
Finally, Clifford should look to get more minutes for Bismack Biyombo. The Suns play a fast paced offense (fourth highest pace at 98.9 possessions per 48 minutes) and run pick-and-rolls all day long. This is the sort of offense that can wear out Jefferson while simultaneously exploiting his biggest defensive weaknesses. Also, in the last game against Phoenix, Biyombo was just too athletic on the boards for Alex Len or Miles Plumlee and he did a great job discouraging shots within the paint.
If the Hornets can win tonight there is a possibility to make a mini run with upcoming games against Philadelphia, Utah, Denver, and Milwaukee. Although at this point of the season, nothing is a given with this year's Charlotte Hornets.