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The Hornets have a very important game against the Jazz on Saturday

The Hornets have been up and down all season. A game against a Western Conference playoff team will be a good barometer for the level of team they are.

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Charlotte Hornets v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (13-18) vs Utah Jazz (16-11)

When: Saturday December 19, 5:00 pm EST

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC

How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast

The Charlotte Hornets are an enigma. Preseason projections had them as the worst team in the league. Their current advanced metrics say they should be among the bottom five. But here we are 31 games into the season, and the Hornets are toe-to-toe with the lower rungs of the Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls.

The Hornets most impressive win came on the road in Brooklyn. Every other win has come against a bad or depleted team. The good teams they’ve played—the Lakers, Clippers, Bucks, Raptors, etc.—have blown their doors off. It’s odd to see a team so clearly outmatched by good teams have relatively consistent success against lesser competition.

Prior to Wednesday night’s loss to the woeful Cavaliers, the Hornets had won four of five games, including the aforementioned win over the Nets. They did that with a renewed defensive focus that helped them overcome lackluster shooting from their back court. Wednesday night could be a blip, or it could be a sign of things to come. Saturdays tilt with the Jazz will be our first look at that.

Saturday’s game also marks the start of a brutal stretch of the season that runs through the trade deadline. Over the next 20 games, the Hornets only face four teams that look decidedly out of the playoff picture, and three of those are on the road. Saturday’s game against the Jazz could be a much needed momentum builder, or it could send the season spiraling out of control.

The Jazz, for as disappointing as they’ve been, are still good. They won’t have Mike Conley, who reaggravated a hamstring ailment on Tuesday. But they do have Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and Bojan Bogdanovic. Mitchell isn’t getting the hype he got as a rookie, but he’s steadily improved every year. This year he’s up to 25.2 points per game on 45% shooting from the field and 36% from three. Gobert hasn’t been quite the defensive force we’re used to seeing, but he’ll still cause all sorts of problems for a Hornets team that isn’t very efficient around the basket. Bogdanovic has picked up where he left off in Indiana, averaging a career high 21.1 points per game while drilling 3.4 3-pointers per game at a 46% clip.

All of that makes this a very important game for the Hornets, and one you should want to see. If you want to see them live, you can go here for tickets. Not only is it a very important game, it’s also early in the evening on a Saturday. Got some family in town for the holidays? Take them to a Hornets game and show them what they’ve been missing out on.

Link to StubHub for tickets.

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