The prodigal son returns on Wednesday night. Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors enter Time Warner Cable Arena as the NBA's biggest juggernaut.
Golden State holds an unblemished 19-0 record and is the fourth team in NBA history to win 23 consecutive regular-season games, trailing only the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers (33-straight) and 2012-13 Miami Heat (27) for the longest winning streak in NBA history.
The Warriors lead the NBA in 10 different categories (and probably more). They are tops in the league in points per game (115.8), field goal percentage (.491), assists per game (29.8), threes per game (13.2), three-point percentage (.429), point differential (+16), fast break points (22.1) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.85). The defending champs also hold the NBA's best offensive rating and the league's greatest net rating.
Curry is the key cog of the NBA's most powerful engine. The reigning MVP leads the league in scoring (31.9 points per game) and three-point field goals (90). He has made more three-point baskets this season than two NBA teams. More impressively, he's on pace for a career-low turnover percentage with a career-high usage rate.
Curry's father, Dell, will be honored during a halftime ceremony Wednesday night for his contributions to the Hornets organization. The current Hornets Ambassador, Special Project Advisor and color analyst for Fox Sports Southeast is the first honoree during the team's opening Buzz City Night of the season. The Hornets will sport the new black "Buzz City" Pride uniforms for the first time ever.
The Hornets will have to take the floor in their sleek uniforms without Al Jefferson. The 11-year pro suffered a strained left calf in the first quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday. We now get a 6-10 sample of life without the lovable big men, beginning of the sport's best team.
Cody Zeller is likely to start in his place but Spencer Hawes and rookie Frank Kaminsky will have their roles increased, as will offseason free agent signee Tyler Hansbrough. During Jefferson's early absence last season, Kemba Walker carried a heavy load for Charlotte.
Over the last week of this November, Walker averaged 23.8 points, the second best mark in the Eastern Conference. This year's Hornets team is set up for success offensively much more so this season compared to Jefferson's absence last winter.
The Hornets have used that offensive renaissance this year to win 10 games in the month of November, the third most wins in the Eastern Conference. Their 8-2 mark at home last month was tied for the second most wins at home in the conference.
Charlotte dropped both games to Golden State last season with the final match-up coming early on in the year, a late November contest in Charlotte. Walker notched a double-double but the Hornets were outscored 32-21 in the fourth quarter, giving the Warriors a narrow five-point win.
Both teams are down a starter as Golden State will be without Harrison Barnes for the third consecutive game. The Warriors will be on game two of a season-long seven-game road trip while Charlotte will end a seven-game homestand on Wednesday night.