When: 1:00 pm EST
Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, N.C.
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
Today is easily the biggest sports holiday on the American calendar, and we all know what the nation will be tuned into; the Charlotte Hornets versus the Washington Wizards live at The Hive.
I’ve never fully comprehended why the NBA schedules games at all on Super Bowl Sunday given how much the league complains about television ratings, but at least the Hornets are a matinee. This game was originally scheduled for Jan. 20, but the Wizards were dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak at the time, so the NBA moved that game to today, and today’s original game against the Portland Trail Blazers was postponed until the second half of the season.
Bradley Beal currently leads the league in scoring at 33.3 points per game, adding 5.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists on 47.2/34.6/87.7 shooting splits with absurd volume—his 35.9 usage percentage is the highest in the NBA. He’s been playing at an All-Star level for years now, and it’s nice to see him continually be rewarded despite there being little talent around him.
Beyond Beal’s stellar play, there aren’t many bright spots in Washington so far this year. Russell Westbrook has gotten some of his burst back after a quad injury hampered him in the bubble, but a turnover percentage of 17 coupled with a 45.7 effective field goal percentage is alarming, and he’s still taking a ton of low-percentage mid-range jumpers.
Rui Hachimura is still a solid player after a solid rookie campaign, and Deni Avdija seems well on his way to a similarly-solid freshman season. Davis Bertans inked a five-year, $80M deal and promptly forgot how to shoot; his current 33.1 3-point percentage is the lowest of his career by over four percent, and it’s on the second-most attempts per game (7.8). Largely, the Wizards are not good, but they’ve recently toppled the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat, so there’s some fight to them.
Washington will be without Thomas Bryant (torn left ACL), who just underwent surgery, while Raul Neto (groin) is questionable.
The Hornets are not at full strength for the fourth straight contest. Graham (left groin strain) is out tonight, but Washington (right foot sprain) is questionable.
The final score of Friday’s game against the Utah Jazz was technically 138-121, but it was a much closer contest than that would represent. The Jazz, who are a great shooting team, hit 26 of their 50 3-pointers, have a dominant paint presence and rebounder in 7’0” Gobert, and the Hornets only had Devonte’ Graham for 11 minutes before he hurt his groin. With 3:38 left, Charlotte was down 10 points to the team with the best record in the NBA—that’s a moral victory to me. If the Hornets play half as well as they did against Utah, they should beat the Wizards.