WHEN: Monday, April 1st, 2019; 9:00 PM EST
WHERE: Vivint Smart Home Arena; Salt Lake City, UT
WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
After an amazing run of wins against playoff teams from both conferences, the Hornets picked the wrong time to lay an egg. After Charlotte lost their opening game of a four game western road trip against the Los Angeles Lakers, they lost 137-90 to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday. It was the worst loss of the season and it came at the worst possible time. The Hornets now find themselves three games out of the eighth seed with six games remaining.
It does not get any easier for a team that now needs to win out and get some help from teams ahead of them. The most frustrating thing about this past weekend for the Hornets is that all the teams in the race for the final few spots got a win against a good team. On Friday, the Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic and Miami Heat all won their respective games.
Meanwhile, as mentioned in the beginning, the Hornets faced a Lakers team that wanted to stick it to us before resting everyone (it still hurts). On top of that, an angry Warriors squad that hosed by the referees the game before decided to take their frustrations out on the next team in their way. Just like my last preview, I digress yet again. Tonight, the Hornets are almost playing for pride on the second night of a back to back against the Utah Jazz.
A Warriors-Jazz road back-to-back is as difficult as any other type of two game stretch in the NBA. It just so happened that the last part of the Hornets schedule had this back to back right after being fed to LeBron James yet again (another digression). It is the third game in four nights in altitude against a Jazz team looking to improve their seeding in the western conference playoffs. They are led by Donovan Mitchell, the former Louisville star that has taken the NBA by storm in his first two seasons.
However, the Jazz aren’t just about the great play of Mitchell. Their whole cast has played pretty well including perennial defensive player of the year candidate Rudy Gobert. Derrick Favors has been consistently solid (although he’s been hindered by back spasms recently) and Joe Ingles is a legend of basketball. Quin Snyder doesn’t get the recognition he deserves as one of the best coaches in the league.
The Hornets will likely have to grind out this game to have a chance at winning. Utah rebounds the ball very well and they are fourth in the league allowing 106.2 points per game. After being held to nine points on 4-14 shooting, Kemba Walker needs a big bounce back effort, but once again he can’t do it alone. Coach Borrego’s team has to play with pride and toughness, something they’ve lacked in their last two outings.
In the end, even Charlotte’s best effort might not be enough. This game is as tough as it gets considering all of the circumstances surrounding it. As every result and day passes, the Hornets franchise is flipping on it’s axis. A third game in four nights in high altitude sounds like a recipe for disaster. Hopefully, the Jazz will not make the Hornets sing the blues once again in Salt Lake City.