When: April 2, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. EST
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
TV: Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: WFNZ 610 AM
The Charlotte Hornets are heading out on the road to start the final, and ridiculously hard, stretch of games in a very difficult season. They get to start April by facing Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Charlotte has games remaining against teams that are currently in the playoffs and nobody else. It’s going to be an uphill climb all the way, but the Hornets are really in the middle of their best streak of play in a long time. They roll into this game winning six of their last eight. Also in their favor, they won the only other meeting between these two teams earlier this season.
On the other side, you’ve got the living, breathing triple-double machine, Westbrook. His historic season is currently on pace to make everyone else’s stat lines look boring. He’s averaging 31.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 10.4 assists this season and against Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night, he put up 32 points, 15 rebounds and 12 assists. It’s pretty much incredible and, as I’ve said just about everywhere that I can, he’s the NBA MVP this season.
His inspired play, couple with the efforts of Steven Adams, Andre Roberson and trade deadline acquisition Taj Gibson, has the Thunder player great basketball down the stretch. They’re 7-3 in their last 10 games, including a dramatic win over the Dallas Mavericks, closing the game on a 14-0 run.
If Charlotte is for real and wants to take a real run at the playoffs, it’s likely going to hang on hinge on how they fare on Sunday afternoon. Heading into Saturday’s games, the Hornets are two games behind the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers who are tied on record at 37-39 and occupy the seventh and eighth seeds respectively.
Both Oklahoma City and the Hornets are in a fight for playoff positioning, a lot is riding on this game. Kemba Walker is coming off yet another 30-point game, going for 31 points and eight assists in a Friday night win over the Denver Nuggets. Frank Kaminsky also had a big game, shooting 5-for-8 from 3-point range and 22 points. Oh, and both Cody Zeller and Marvin Williams had three blocks a piece. You could say that everything came together on Friday night and it will have to again on Sunday.
Win or lose, it won’t be a game to miss with Kemba going head-to-head with Westbrook. However, let’s just keep the good vibes going and believe Charlotte’s ability to get a big win and inch closer to the playoffs.