What: Charlotte Hornets (23-30) vs. Portland Trailblazers (29-25)
Where: Moda Center; Portland, Oregon
When: 10:00 p.m. EST
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The Charlotte Hornets are on the road again tonight, as they face off against the Portland Trail Blazers.
It could be a debut night for new Hornets player Willy Hernangomez, who was acquired by Charlotte in a trade with the New York Knicks yesterday that sent Johnny O’Bryant III and two second round picks to New York.
Will he play tonight? Eh, I’m not so sure, despite the nice things Rich Cho had to say about him. He is, after all, a center, and the Hornets have two centers taking a lot of the minutes. With Marvin Williams expected back tonight, Willy may have to observe his new team from the bench. It’s logical; he’s likely yet to practice with the team.
But with the Hornets struggling as they are, I’d love to see a new face in the rotation just to see what he can do. Hernangomez had fairly high reputation among Knicks fans and was a First Team All-Rookie last season. If Cho believes he can play given the opportunity, hopefully Steve Clifford thinks so as well.
(And remember that all of this could completely change if the Hornets make another trade before today’s deadline. Willy could be starting by 10:00 p.m. tonight for all we know.)
But let’s focus on Portland for a bit. They sit 7th in the Western Conference but are riding a three game losing streak (we know the feeling, Blazers fans). Damien Lillard is finally an All-Star, so I’m not sure if he has any material to rap about now, while his backcourt partner C.J. McCollum is a potent threat from just about everywhere on the court, shooting well above 40 percent from the field and beyond the arc.
Jusuf Nurkic is a large center piece down low, averaging a near double-double at 14.2 point and 8.2 rebounds per game. Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis have their moments. The one solace for Charlotte is the potential absence of Evan Turner, who missed Monday’s game with left calf soreness. With or without him, though, the Blazers are a solid bunch.
Portland is Top 10 defensively and middle of the road on offensive. Outside of Lillard and McCollum, they don’t have a lot of scorers. Portland isn’t in good form, so the Hornets could take advantage of that. It will require a better effort than the one against the Nuggets on Monday, however.
We’ll see how things shape up tonight. Maybe it’s the start of the Willy era. Maybe the Hornets will, as this guy proposed, trade their entire roster for Cleveland’s. As has been the case pretty much all season, it’s hard to tell just what the Hornets will do.