When: Friday, January 24th, 3:00 pm EST
Where: AccorHotels Arena; Paris, France
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA TV
For most of us a trip to Paris is something to look forward to. The food. The history. This sites. The romance.
But for the Charlotte Hornets their trip to France on Friday will be far from a vacation. The struggling Hornets are riding a seven-game losing streak and will be facing the juggernaut Milwaukee Bucks who sport the NBA’s best record at 39-6.
This game will be the first regular season NBA game ever played in Paris and is part of the NBA’s ongoing efforts to expand the league’s reach in Europe. The league offices were smart to schedule the Bucks and Hornets. First, Milwaukee has one of the NBA’s marquee players in Giannis Antetokounmpo who is from Greece and immensely popular across Europe. The Hornets feature France’s own Nicolas Batum who is sure to be a popular local draw. Batum has been a basketball hero in France going back to his youth as a member of the junior French national team and later as a mainstay on the men’s French national team. I expect there will be a lot of Batum jerseys in the crowd when the Hornets and Bucks tip off.
This game doesn’t require a lot of breaking down the X’s and O’s. The Bucks are a steamroller with very few weaknesses. They are clearly the best team in the Eastern Conference and it will probably take an injury to Giannis for them not to reach the NBA Finals this year. If Milwaukee remains healthy it wouldn’t be surprising if they win the NBA title this summer.
The main glimmer of hope for the Hornets is that Milwaukee might get caught up in the distractions of traveling to Europe and enjoying Paris. Perhaps the combination of the international travel, beautiful location, weird time zone, different arena, and playing an inferior opponent will knock the Bucks off their game a bit. Maybe Milwaukee comes out lethargic and the Hornets come out hot and we end up with a good game on our hands.
Win or lose it will be fun to follow a Hornets game on a Friday afternoon. For those of us in the Eastern time zone it will mean having the rare opportunity of watching an NBA game while closing out a work day. For others it may mean watching a game before kicking off the weekend. It’s a rare Friday treat, so whatever it means to you, just enjoy this one regardless of the outcome.