When: 7:00 pm EST
Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast (or South), NBA League Pass, I don’t know I hope you can figure it out if you’re a cord cutter in the broadcast region
The Hornets will face the Raptors for the second time in as many games as the NBA continues its baseball series-esque preseason. They dropped the first meeting 111-100 after a great first quarter and very poor subsequent quarters. They’ll try to extend the good stuff a little further this time.
The starters and key reserves built up a 25-6 lead over the Raptors that was slowly whittled away by sloppy Hornets basketball and a 3-point barrage by the Raptors. In all, the Hornets turned the ball over 22 times. 16 of those were live ball turnovers that were stolen by the Raptors, which contributed to the Raptors scoring 23 fast break points and 28 total points off turnovers. The Hornets didn’t help themselves at the free throw line either, where they missed 15 of their 41 attempts.
None of that is surprising though. James Borrego expected some sloppiness, and sloppiness is what he got. Other than Gordon Hayward, no one on the team has played a competitive game of basketball since March, and they’ve only been doing team practice for about a week. It’s going to take time for everybody to get their mojo back, and with only four preseason games, that’ll probably spill into the regular season.
There were positives to take out of Saturdays game though. Gordon Hayward looked like the player that was promised, scoring 11 quiet points and dropping a couple of assists. LaMelo Ball dazzled as a passer and rebounder, but he’s still looking for his NBA bucket, which he’ll surely get tonight. Miles Bridges, Devonte’ Graham, Terry Rozier, and Bismack Biyombo put in good minutes as well.
On top of that, the Hornets played a more up-tempo style that Borrego has wanted since he arrived in Charlotte.
.@hornets played at a pace of 114.50 possessions per 48 minutes in Saturday's preseason loss to Toronto (they ranked last in pace last season at 96.24)— Sam Perley (@sam_perley) December 14, 2020
A lot of this number has to do with turnovers, but urgency and tempo seems to be there already
That was the fastest pace of any preseason game played so far and is faster than any team played last season. The Hornets obviously weren’t very crisp playing that fast, but they’re trying.
We’ll see how that faster pace looks with more minutes from the main rotation pieces. If we go off the blueprints of other NBA teams, some of the younger rotation pieces could see close to 30 minutes tonight as the Hornets try to jell before the season starts. We also might get to see the preseason debut of Malik Monk, who has been back practicing with the team after missing the start of the camp with covid. I’d expect he’ll be eased back into the rotation slowly, so if he does play tonight, it’ll probably be for very limited minutes. Either way, what we see tonight will be a better resemblance of what the team will look like on opening night.