The Charlotte Hornets schedule has been brutal so far, and it’s not going to lighten up in the immediate future. James Borrego called the season to this point “a grind,” and that might be an understatement. The Hornets have played 24 games so far this season. Only the Pacers and Pelicans have played that many, and no team has played more games. The schedule has slanted heavily towards road games as well—15 of those 24 games have been away from Spectrum Center. No other team has played more than 13 road games. The Hornets’ strength of schedule is ninth toughest in the league to this point and fourth toughest in the Eastern Conference.
That trend isn’t set to stop right now either. The Hornets are in the middle of a welcome three day respite between games. That slows down the pace at which they’ve taken on opponents, but it’s not going to help with the home/road splits. The Hornets next play on Sunday in Atlanta. After that, they have a three game homestand before hitting the road again for a six game Western Conference road trip. Four of those six opponents are currently above .500, and that doesn’t include the Nuggets with reigning MVP Nikola Jokic.
By the time the dust settles at the end of all that, the Hornets will have played 34 games. 22 of those 34 games will have been on the road. That’s extraordinarily tilted towards road games over such an extended stretch of the season.
The bright side of this is that the Hornets will have one of the softest schedules in the league between Christmas and the end of the year. In the 48 games between Christmas day and the end of the season, the Hornets will play 29 home games and 19 away games. Their current remaining strength of the schedule is sixth easiest in the league, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that looks even cushier after the road trip. The Hornets have 11 games against the current bottom five teams in the league between Christmas and the end of the season.
The Hornets have faced a daunting schedule to this point and will continue to do so for the next couple of weeks. If they can hover around .500, that can be seen as a major win. Given the Hornets stay healthy, their schedule sets them up to make a run in through the later part of the schedule to build momentum heading into the playoff race.