Where: Oracle Arena; Oakland, CA
When: 10:30 p.m. EST
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
As the Charlotte Hornets fall further into the pit of despair, they face off against the Golden State Warriors, the NBA’s best team.
Fans hoping to at least see Stephen Curry will be disappointed, as he will be out tonight as he recovers from an ankle sprain. He’s close to a return, but the Warriors are managing well enough without him, so there’s no need to rush him back.
Winning tonight, well, I just don’t see it happening. The Hornets pulled off a surprising comeback on Wednesday against the Boston Celtics, but they never took the lead as they were unable to make shots late in the game. Even if tonight’s game manages to stay close, the Hornets aren’t doing enough in the fourth quarter to give me enough confidence of pulling an upset.
But what will it take to win tonight, or at least be in a position to win? Well for starters, defending the 3-point a little better would help. Boston went 15-34 the other night, and couldn’t miss for stretches of the game. Golden State likely watched tape of this game think they could double the amount of made 3’s. I wouldn’t put it past them.
For as impressive as Kevin Durant is offensively, he’s standing out on defensive this season. He’s defending an elite level, with teammate Draymond Green calling him the leading Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Klay Thompson continues to give the Warriors 20 points a night, while Green provides near triple-double averages of 10.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game. They will be a handful to contain, but doing so is probably Charlotte’s best chance of winning.
And of course, making shots in the fourth quarter for once. Charlotte continues to struggle late in games, and it cost them again on Wednesday. They got decent looks but couldn’t connect, and it gave Boston the opportunity to pull away. It’s doubtful tonight’s game is close enough for this to be an issue, however.
This road trip could be the stretch that determines the direction Charlotte takes the rest of the season. Anything less than going 3-1 could signal to the team that it’s time to prepare for next season. What that entails is a bit of a mystery at this point, but it more than likely means making decisions that aren’t conducive to winning. Obviously the current decisions aren’t working, mind you, but it’s easy to spot the difference between trying to win and trying to develop.