When: 5:00 p.m. EST
Where: Pepsi Center; Denver, CO
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
After getting blown out at home by the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night, it seems like the Charlotte Hornets are reeling after losing for the fourth time in six games. Despite how inconsistent the Hornets have been defensively this season, they are still in the playoff picture. However, how long they’re going to stay in the top eight will be determined over the next few games.
Charlotte begins their toughest stretch of the season tonight as they embark on a six game West Coast road trip. This trip begins with the top-seeded team in the western conference: the Denver Nuggets.
If you were to tell me that this Hornets team beat the current number one team in the western conference, I would’ve laughed in your face, but it’s true. Charlotte won 113-107 over Denver at the Spectrum Center on December 7th of last year. However, things will be a lot different this time.
The Nuggets are starting to get healthy at the right time and the complete opposite could be said about the Hornets. Cody Zeller fractured his hand and Jeremy Lamb has a hamstring strain, which means there will be more opportunities for the rest of the roster to get minutes. It will be interesting to see if Borrego makes changes to his lineup tonight as the team faces one of the best young centers in the NBA - Nikola Jokic.
Denver isn’t all about Jokic, although he is certainly the focal point of the team. The backcourt duo of Gary Harris and Jamal Murray has the potential to take the league by storm. They hope to get shooting guard Will Barton back from injury soon to bolster their bench. Contributions from Monte Morris and Malik Beasley have led the Nuggets to their top seed in the West as the calendar year starts.
As for the Hornets, it may be too early to say their season is on the line over the next week, but then again it might not be. Kemba Walker will do his thing, but who will be the second and third scorers now that Jeremy Lamb is hampered due to injury? They’re going to have to outscore this insanely talented Denver offense to have a chance in this game. It isn’t going to be as easy as years past, because the Nuggets defense has also improved a lot this season.
In the end, the reality of the Hornets season is going to rear its ugly head in the next two weeks. It would be essential of the Hornets to steal this game this evening, but in high altitude that will be a tough task. We’ll see if the Hornets respond to their worst performance of the season at Pepsi Center this evening.