When: 7PM EST
Where: Charlotte, NC, Time Warner Cable Arena
How to Watch: Fox Sports South, Comcast Sportsnet-Baltimore NBA League Pass
Just a few nights ago, without Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo, the Charlotte Hornets (21-27) beat the Washington Wizards (31-18) on the road by a score of 92-88. Now the Hornets get the Wizards on their home court looking to make it 2-0 on the season against their Southeast division rival.
It's not every week in the NBA where you see the same opponent in back-to-back to games. It's likely even rarer when your opponent has a game in between, and fortunately for the Hornets, the Wizards had a road game against the Hawks last night.
Even if the Wizards are tired for this game, this isn't one to be taken lightly. As Steve Clifford said emphatically in an interview Wednesday, "they're good." In addition, he likened tonight's game to a playoff game in that Charlotte "will have more of a familiarity with what (Washington will) want to do (and vice versa)". He also talked down either team making many adjustments and instead cautioned against a "guy that didn't play that good, plays really well."
Washington player who might bounce back: Although 16 points and 10 assists is a pretty great night for most point guards, for John Wall those numbers are actually slightly below his 17.4 point 10.2 assist season averages. The Hornets committed their team defense to stopping Wall's pick-and-roll attack, often dropping Cody Zeller into the paint to help as Marcin Gortat rolled through the lane. Even if the Hornets commit to stopping Wall again (as they should!), it wouldn't be surprising if he stepped up and was Clifford's surprise guy that hurts the Hornets.
Hornets player who might bounce back: The box score won't show it, but Cody Zeller had a very good game by playing great team and individual defense. However he had just 2 points on 1-for-5 shooting and 3 rebounds in 30 minutes of play (he did have 4 assists though). If the Wizards slide more attention over to Al Jefferson (18 points and 12 rebounds), Zeller might have more opportunity to be a scoring threat near the basket where he's much more efficient (55 percent) than he is from mid-range (35 percent).
The Hornets newest player: After waiving Jannero Pargo, the Hornets signed self proclaimed combo guard Elliot Williams. Coach Clifford admitted the Hornets were "playing with fire" by having only Brian Roberts as the only true point guard on the roster. Although Williams might not have much traditional point guard experience, he's a player used to having the ball in his hands. In addition, he brings the ability to defend opposing point guards, which frankly is lacking from Lary Steal (Gary Neal and/or Lance Stephenson). It's unlikely Williams sees any playing time against Washington, but it is good to know that the Hornets have another option in case of emergency.
What's next: The Hornets travel to Philadelphia on Saturday to take on the Sixers, who are no longer the league's laughing stock and have won three of their last six games.