The Charlotte Hornets have their first home game of the season today, and it's against the Atlanta Hawks. The Hornets so far have lost two close ones to Southeast Division rivals the Miami Heat and the Hawks. It certainly plays in the Hornets' favor that they're preparing for an opponent that they just faced. Let's dive into what the Hornets have to do to take down the Hawks.
The Hornets' spacing so far has been leaps and bounds better than last year. Clearly, the emphasis is on moving the ball and putting up 3-pointers. The team is attempting an average of 27 3-pointers per game –– a rate that puts them at 15th in the league –– and that's after being dead last for the 2014-2015 season.
The team's new players are so far working out, too. Jeremy Lin is showing he can be a spark plug off of the bench, Nicolas Batum looks like he's going to bounce back from a poor season last year, and Spencer Hawes has provided solid play as a floor spacer. The frontline of Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, and Al Jefferson has provided solid rebounding with all three players getting at least 11 rebounds each. The lineup is certainly lacking a bit on the defensive end, and Clifford may eventually switch different players in to play around Al Jefferson.
To win against a team like the Hawks, the defensive rotations need to be on point. Having a new and improved offense means nothing if the Hornets give up easy shots. Atlanta can play five guys at a time that can shoot threes and make smart plays; it's why they won 60 games last year. It's difficult to guard versatile players like Paul Millsap and Al Horford, but if the Hornets can keep them scrambling for open shots, then they will have an easier time.
Then again, it's much easier said then done. Kyle Korver is probable to play after resting his ankle, and he's arguably the best shooter not named Stephen Curry.
It's going to be an uphill battle to beat a team as good as the Hawks, but the Hornets showed they can certainly get close to victory. I predict the Hornets will lose in a close fashion. If they do it's certainly not time to panic; it's still the beginning of the season.