When: 7:30 P.M. EST
Where: Brooklyn, NY, Barclays Center
How to Watch: Fox Sports South, NBA League Pass
The playoffs-hopeful Charlotte Hornets currently sit at 25-33, the same record as the Brooklyn Nets, who are slotted in the eighth seed in the current standings. As I wrote about earlier this week, with how tight the playoff race is for the seventh and eighth seeds in the East, the Hornets need to take care of some tiebreaker situations. That starts tonight -- the Nets beat the Hornets in their first meeting back in December, so the Hornets will need a victory tonight to even the series before their final game later this month.
The Hornets are coming off two wins against the Magic and Lakers, but are traveling up to Brooklyn on the back end of back-to-back. Charlotte continues to play well since the addition of Mo Williams to the backcourt and will need solid play from their starters -- all of who scored in double digits last night against the Lakers -- to take down a Nets team that is also playing well right now.
After playing a brutal stretch of road games -- eight in a row over a three-week span -- the Nets took down the NBA's best Golden State Warriors at home on Monday. They will also be going for their third straight victory and are in the same playoff situation as the Hornets. Thaddeus Young has been a nice addition for them since shipping Kevin Garnett to Minnesota in return.
Tonight's game will most likely be a slow affair -- both teams rank in the bottom ten in terms of pace (possessions per game). However, the Nets have gone over 100 in their past two games and the Hornets have been at 98 or higher in their four. Charlotte's offense is still dreadful -- second-worst in the league only to Philly -- but it hasn't been quite as dreadful with Mo Williams and his shooting in town.
The lineup consisting of Mo Williams, Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, and Al Jefferson is shooting very well in a little over 17 minutes per game together -- they are at 45.2% overall from the field and 51.9% from the 3-point line on 4.5 attempts in those 17 minutes. They have a positive plus-minus in their time together and you can see the effect of having a guy who can stretch the floor and how he makes things easier for everyone else involved.
There are daily rumors now that Kemba Walker is close to a return, but until then, the Hornets need to continue to play through both Williams and Jefferson and rely on balanced play and defense. With the crowded race for the East's eighth seed, tonight's game could end up having large end-of-season implications.