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Preview: Hornets look to make it five in a row against the Pacers

The Hornets are rolling and have one more home game before the schedule gets really road heavy.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

What: Charlotte Hornets (9-7) vs Indiana Pacers (6-10)

When: 7:00pm EST

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

The Hornets have won four straight games to bounce back from a rough five game losing skid. All four of the wins have come against teams with winning records, and the most recent two of those came against the respective conference leaders (at the time of the game at least).

Tonight’s opponent is statistically the worst team the Hornets have faced on this homestand. They’ve lost their last two games and averaged a whopping 86.5 points per game in those losses. They tallied 30 assists total in those two games, and less than half of their buckets were assisted. They’ve played slow, they haven’t moved the ball, and they’ve been inefficient. Sounds ugly.

Slightly bigger picture—Malcolm Brogdon has been playing well, but he’s shouldering more of an offensive burden than the Pacers would like to see. He and Caris LeVert have dominated the offense over the last week or so. The Pacers’ best player, Domantas Sabonis is fourth on the team in usage over the last five games behind the aforementioned duo and Kelan Martin in a reserve role. Sabonis has been efficient, but the Pacers would probably prefer he shoot more than 11 times per game.

All of that said, Sabonis has taken it to the Hornets in recent meetings, and the Hornets have been struggling with strong centers all season long, especially at the beginning of games. There’s a good chance he snaps out of this cold spell and lights the Hornets up like he did in the early parts of the season opener. Though if he does, it remains to be seen if the Pacers have enough juice coming from elsewhere to push the Pacers past the Hornets.

Recent trends suggest that the Hornets have a leg up tonight. They’ve been defending very well and the Pacers flat out refuse to put the ball in the basket. Those trends would dictate that this game goes similarly to the Wizards game as a slow, choppy contest where both teams struggle to crack 100 points.

It’s important that the Hornets win tonight, as the schedule gets borderline unfair after this. After tonight’s game, the Hornets will hop on a plane to Atlanta to kick off a stretch where they play 13 out of 17 games on the road. Going into that extended stretch of travel with a three game cushion over .500 is a good place to be.