The Charlotte Hornets are stumbling into the playoffs. As of this morning they sit in 11th place, yet are just half a game back of the Boston Celtics, who are in eighth. At this point, its too early to write off the Hornets, despite how poorly they have played over the past couple of weeks.
Still, the Hornets' recent play has been sobering, and adding to that is the news that Al Jefferson won't be 100 percent the rest of the season. Jefferson injured his knee during the recent game against the Chicago Bulls, and Clifford expects Jefferson's knee will have soreness the rest of the season:
"Al is not going to be 100 percent here the rest of the year. He is just not," Clifford said at shootaround Wednesday morning.
Jefferson has been bothered by injuries all season. He suffered a groin strain that kept him out for a number of games, and when he has been on the court, the dominant offensive production Hornets fans became so used to last season has only made occasional appearances. While Jefferson's scoring will be needed, it's unlikely the team will get the best out of him the rest of the way.
Sticking with injuries, both Cody Zeller and Mo Williams are questionable for Friday's game against the Washington Wizards:
Jefferson is listed as probable tomorrow at WAS, while Zeller and Mo Williams are listed as questionable on @hornets injury report— Charlotte Hornets PR (@HornetsPR) March 26, 2015
Zeller's recent absence has hurt the Hornets on the defensive end. The Hornets were unable to prevent Brook Lopez from scoring Wednesday, and Zeller, considered one of the best interior defenders on the team, would have been much better matchup than Al Jefferson. Much like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Zeller brings a lot of energy on the defensive end. If he can't play agains the Wizards, it could be a long night for Charlotte's front court, as Marcin Gortat and Nene can be difficult to contain.
If Mo Williams can't go, the team could be in for a long night offensively. While Williams' scoring efficiency has dropped a bit in recent games, the Hornets need him on the court. If he sits, look for Brian Roberts to fill back in as the backup point guard.
Finally, Mark Price was introduced as the new head coach at UNC Charlotte. He will be tasked with rebuilding a program that has struggled since moving to the Atlantic 10 years ago, before returning to Conference USA this season, where they once saw conference and tournament success. While he does lack coaching experience at the college level, MKG believes he has all the qualities to be a successful head coach:
That's high praise, but no one has benefited more from Price's coaching than MKG. Just how important was Price to Kidd-Gilchrist? He was at the press conference for Price's announcement:
Congratulations to Mark Price being named the new head coach at UNC Charlotte. I wish him the best of luck! pic.twitter.com/qdf7AlVzwV— Mike Kidd-Gilchrist (@MKG14) March 26, 2015