When: 7:00 pm EST
Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC
How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The Hornets are finally home after a brutal road trip saw them repeatedly lose in California before salvaging one win when they finally crossed back to this side of the Mississippi. They finally return to the friendly confines of the Spectrum Center, where they’ll debut their new City Edition uniforms with their retro court. For those who haven’t seen, this is what the uniforms look like.
From a basketball perspective, the Hornets are trying to get right. They’ve hit some seemingly never-ending cold spells, which has dragged their offense down to the point where it can no longer overcome what has been one of the worst defenses in the league all season long.
Tonight won’t get any easier in that regard. The Knicks come into the game having completely flip flopped from last year’s iteration of themselves. They currently sport the league’s fifth most efficient offense and 26th most efficient defense. This year’s splashy signings probably have a lot to do with that. Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier have both been inserted into the starting lineup, and neither is going to win you any games on the defensive end of the floor.
The big storyline for tonight’s game is the aforementioned Walker. After the Celtics used him up, they dumped him to Oklahoma City, who eventually waived him so he could sign with his hometown team.
Kemba has struggled to find his footing with the Knicks so far. His usage is way down compared to his career norms—this is the first season in which he did not rank in the 70th percentile or above in terms of usage from a point guard, and he currently ranks in the 32nd percentile. He isn’t making up for it by dishing assists either; he’s averaging just 3.1 per game. The Knicks have a team have struggled mightily with him on the floor and thrive with him on the bench.
Julius Randle continues to be the focal point for the Knicks. His numbers are largely the same as they were during last year’s Most Improved the game with the exception of a slight downtick in shooting efficiency. However, so far this year, the Knicks have done most of their damage with bench units featuring Derrick Rose and second year players Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin.
The Hornets will need a strong performance from their bench to match what has been the biggest strength for the Knicks so far this season. This has the makings of a high scoring affair, so it should be a fun one.