Where: United Center; Chicago, Illinois
When: 8:00 p.m. EST
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
After a tough loss to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Hornets have lost five straight games. However, there were positives that came out of it, such as the return of Nicolas Batum to the lineup. Despite his return, poor play from the bench and a rough second half did the Hornets in against the Cavs.
Now, the Hornets go back on the road to take on a struggling Chicago Bulls team that is in need of an identity. Like the Hornets, they are also in the midst of a five game losing streak. While they haven’t been great as a team, they have a very talented power forward in Lauri Markkanen. The former Arizona standout has been arguably the only positive for the Bulls this season, averaging 14.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Beyond Makkanen, keep an eye on Robin Lopez, one of the better offensive rebounders in the league. Also look for a solid night from Bobby Portis, who has played well since returning from suspension, averaging 15.8 points and 9.8 rebounds through four games.
After their last road trip, the Hornets have to take care of business in this game. It is up to their leader Kemba Walker to set the tone for the team early. A loss to the Bulls would be alarming considering that they are likely going to tank this season.
The biggest key to the game is that the Hornets must continue to adjust to Batum’s return. Jeremy Lamb was productive as a starter, but now he has to take his contributions and produce from the bench. In addition, rookies Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon have to be ready to play. I’m interested to see if Cody Zeller gets minutes with Batum in certain lineups throughout the game.
Overall, the Hornets really need this game to get back to their winning ways. A loss against the Bulls would be demoralizing for everyone. It is up to the leaders of the team to get the job done in Chicago tonight.