Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC
When: 7 p.m. EST
How: FOX Sports Southeast - Charlotte, WFNZ 610 AM
A home game? A home game!
It's been just over three weeks since the last time the NBA played a game in Charlotte and it comes at just the right time.
On Tuesday night, the Hornets host the Phoenix Suns, fresh off a six game road trip which saw the team tangle of some of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and come away from that trip with a winning record of 4-2.
The trip ended on a down note, a loss at Atlanta and some of the problems that were evident that game need to be corrected if the Hornets want to stop losing precious ground in the playoff race.
The bonus of playing at home again, finally, is that the opponent is floundering Phoenix. After firing Hornacek and putting millennials on blast, the Suns finally found a trade partner to move disgruntled Markieff Morris. So, to recap, they fired their established coach in favor of an untested interim guy, traded away one of their most talented players and we didn't even cover the injury situation in the desert.
Watson isn't all bad as a coach, I'm sure. He didn't inherit a great situation, but the Suns are 1-9 since he took over and rank 28th in defensive rating and 27th in offensive rating. There may be a formula at play in Phoenix, but it doesn't include being a formidable opponent for the boys back in the Hive.
The Hornets continue to reintegrate Al Jefferson into game situations and his condition will hopefully continue to improve so that he doesn't fade and essentially look every bit the big man who is gassed and can't find the extra effort necessary to make sure his shots are going down, not just up.
While the Hawks stifled a lot of the Hornets action, Charlotte should look to attack with Kemba Walker and Cody Zeller in the pick-and-roll against this Phoenix team. Also, some first-team level action from Nicholas Batum might be in order. He hasn't done a great job of taking care of the ball over the past few games and put up just two points in 38 minutes against the Hawks. Add that to his 32 minutes, six points and five turnovers against the Pacers in the prior game and you have to hope that a return to form is in the cards. Maybe the Suns are the right team to get Batum back on track. Looking back at the last few games, Batum hasn't played his best basketball when facing quality competition on the road. However, back on February 21, against the Brooklyn Nets who are similar to the Suns (not good), Batum a line of 16 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.
Whatever it takes and wherever the big game comes from, the Hornets have reached the must-win point of the season and every game the rest of the way is going to be important. Barring some type of crazy Devin Booker eruption, Charlotte are the clear favorites to win this game.