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Preview: Terry Rozier’s back, Luka Doncic’s out as the Hornets face the Mavs

The Hornets finally get some good health-related news as they head to Dallas to begin a six-game western road trip.

Golden State Warriors v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (15-13) at Dallas Mavericks (13-13)

When: 8:30 PM ET

Where: American Airlines Center; Dallas, TX

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

No LaMelo. No Luka.

Lame.

Two of the NBA’s brightest young stars won’t be shining in this one. LaMelo Ball remains in the league’s health and safety protocols while Luka Doncic may miss multiple games due to a lingering ankle issue.

But the game must go on. The Hornets are kicking off their first contest in a six-game western road trip and will playing eight of their next 10 games away from home. It’s going to be a tough stretch for a team that has lost five of its last seven games while being ravaged by COVID issues.

The Mavs started the season 9-4 but have gone just 4-9 over their last 13 games. Dallas won in Oklahoma City last night so they may be a little road weary as they head back home for this one.

Dallas Mavericks Overview

Dallas is a different team without Luka Doncic and his 25.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 8.5 assists per game. The Mavs do have a more than capable backup point guard in Jalen Brunson who averages 14.3 points and 4.8 assists per game on 49.1% shooting.

The Mavs starting five is rounded out by shooting guard Reggie Bullock (5.7 PPG, 27.6% 3PT), small forward Dorian Finney-Smith (9.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG), power forward Dwight Powell (5.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG), and 7-foot-3 center Kristaps Porzingis (19.6 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 30% 3PT). While Porzingis hasn’t shot it well from the 3-point line this year, he has made a concerted effort to be more aggressive in the post and he’s shooting 77.8% at the rim, which should worry Hornets fans given the team’s lack of a true rim protector.

The Mavs bench is led by Tim Hardaway Jr. (14.3 PPG) who only recently shifted from the starting unit to a bench role. Big man Maxi Kieber (6.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG) also gets good run off the bench and has a solid overall game.

How the Hornets Can Win

The Hornets have received some good health-related news for the first time since about the Reagan administration. Terry Rozier has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols and will make his return after missing the last four games. Huzzah! While Terry’s finally back we’ll still need to see what his conditioning looks like. It’s not uncommon for players returning from COVID to have a hard time catching their breath and it can be a slow re-entry process.

LaMelo Ball, Jalen McDaniels, Mason Plumlee, and Ish Smith are still in the league’s COVID protocols. PJ Washington is questionable to play tonight due to an illness. That’s a legitimate five-man unit right there and none of them might be available.

The Hornets are a team of two extremes. They currently rank second overall in offensive rating (112.9) but they also rank second to last in defensive rating (113.1). Dallas ranks just 22nd in offensive rating and should lag behind that without Luka Doncic, so perhaps Charlotte can get some defensive stops tonight. It’s going to be tough containing Porzingis in the post without Plumlee and potentially Washington, but if they can move him off his spots even a little bit that could go a long way in grinding out another shorthanded win.

Poll

What’s your prediction for tonight’s game?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Hornets win easy
    (25 votes)
  • 68%
    Hornets win a close one
    (90 votes)
  • 6%
    Mavs win a close one
    (9 votes)
  • 6%
    Mavs win easy
    (8 votes)
132 votes total Vote Now