When: 7:00 pm EST
Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The Nets were in a much different position the first time these two teams met. They had sputtered out of the gate to a 5-8 start. They beat the Hornets, and that seemed to get them going in the right direction. That win was the start of a four game winning streak, part of a 6-2 record for the Nets in their last eight games.
They’ve done all this without star point guard Kyrie Irving, who’s missed the last ten games with a mysterious shoulder impingement issue. Many were saying he was trying to duck games against the Celtics and Cavaliers, and considering that he’s missed six straight games against his former teams, who could blame them? But the issue appears bigger than that, and there are growing concerns that this could turn into a long term problem.
Spencer Dinwiddie has taken a star turn in Irving’s absence. In their strong eight game stretch, he’s averaged 24.6 points and 7.4 assists. Joe Harris is contributing his usual barrage of 3-pointers, hitting 44.8% of his 7.3 3-point attempts per game (he could sneaky be the best outside shooter in the NBA). Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, and future Coach of the Year Garrett Temple have all made major contributions as well. Prince and Temple join Harris in canning over three 3-pointers a game at a better than 40% clip.
Those stats don’t bode well for the Hornets. We already saw them struggle to handle Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan in pick and rolls. The stats won’t show it, but they struggled to contain the Nets from three as well. The Nets just couldn’t capitalize. The Nets were 5-of-19 on open 3-point attempts and 4-of-18 wide open 3-point attempts last time. The Hornets can’t expect to be so lucky again.
The Hornets are probably going to give up a lot of points, so they’ll need their strong offensive play from their last six quarters of game action to keep up. They scored 65 points in the second half of a furious comeback in the Suns and had put up 85 points in three quarters against the Warriors before devoting much of the fourth to hunting for Devonte’ Graham’s record setting 3-pointer that never came.
Graham and Terry Rozier have combined to average 45.0 points, 16.0 assists, and 12.5 rebounds per game over their last two while hitting 19-of-45 3-pointers (42.2%). The Hornets need that to continue to pull off a win tonight.