The Charlotte Hornets are currently on a winning streak. Sure, it's only three games so far, but this is a welcome trend for a team that has struggled notoriously from game to game. Interestingly, each of the Hornets' wins during this streak have come without Lance Stephenson, who is rumored to be on the trading block.
Tonight, the Hornets are hoping to extend their winning streak to four games with a win against the middling Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks are 14-14 on the season, which is a welcome sign of growth from a young team that went 15-67 last season while trying to win basketball games. They're led by Brandon Knight, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and O.J. Mayo, and up until recently, rookie Jabari Parker played a large role in their improved play.
Unfortunately, Parker suffered a season-ending knee injury just four games ago. While that's a huge loss for the Bucks, they're still a formidable, well-balanced team. Since losing Parker, the Bucks have continued to split their games, with a record of 2-2 over that time.
The Bucks flaunt a blue collar front line of Larry Sanders and Zaza Pachulia, with Ersan Ilyasova and John Henson playing minutes off the bench. Al Jefferson will be tested tonight, as each of the Bucks' frontcourt players have dramatically different games from each other on both sides of the ball.
In the backcourt, Kemba Walker will see most of his minutes against Brandon Knight. Despite being in his third year, few people are sure of just what Brandon Knight is capable of. Some nights, Knight will look like an elite point guard in the making, but he's prone to following up excellent showings with duds. He's a nice player with excellent length and decent scoring ability, but whether or not he's consistent will determine his future in the NBA.
Still, both guards are quick and hard-nosed, so that matchup should be exciting.
The most interesting matchup in tonight's game, however, will be Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo, aside from having a stellar nickname (The Greek Freak) that helps fans and writers avoid messing up spellings and pronunciations, is one of the most intriguing young players in the NBA today. Physically, he's unlike any other player in the league, sans maybe Javale McGee. He sports a huge frame with long arms, and coupled with his insanely long strides, he's an absolute menace in transition. Along with his good guard skills, he's perhaps the first of a new breed of NBA players.
Will the Hornets get a win tonight? It's hard to say. The Bucks are not to be underestimated. Despite their relatively young age, they show a poise not commonly seen in growing teams. Much of that can be attributed to head coach Jason Kidd. If the Hornets let up when they get an early lead, they might be in for a long night.
It would be nice to win four games in a row, though.