When: 1:00 pm EST
Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
This is a big game, friends. The top three teams in the Eastern Conference - the 76ers, Bucks, and Nets - are running away from the field. Everything else is wide open. The Hornets are currently No. 4 in the East but they are also just two games ahead of the No. 9 seed.
The Suns are shockingly good this year and are somehow in second place in the Western Conference. The Hornets will take any help they can get in this game and a 1:00 Eastern start time definitely works in their favor. Tip-off will feel like 10:00 AM for the Suns, which is a weird start time for NBA players who are normally nocturnal creatures. Thanks, NBA!
Phoenix Suns Overview
Please raise your hand if you predicted before the season that the lowly Phoenix Suns would have one of the league’s best records in March. Nobody? No one? Didn’t think so. After being a Western Conference doormat for the better part of the last decade (they haven’t made the playoffs since 2009-10), the Suns are scorching this year.
Shooting guard Devin Booker averages 25 points per game on nearly 50% shooting and has made back-to-back All-Star teams. Chris Paul hasn’t lost a step just yet and contributes nearly 16 points and nine assists per game as the team’s seasoned field general. Center Deandre Ayton averages about 15 points and 11 rebounds but doesn’t have an outside game and isn’t known as a rim protector. Wings Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder round out the starting five and both provide capable scoring, decent rebounding, and solid 3-point shooting.
Phoenix’s bench is bolstered by guard Cameron Payne (6.8 PPG, 3.6 APG, 42% 3PT), forward Cameron Johnson (10.0 PPG), and versatile big man Dario Saric (9.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG). And, of course, former Hornet Frank Kaminsky will probably come off the bench and hit like eight 3-pointers in this one.
How the Hornets Can Win
With the 1:00 start time, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Suns come a little groggy in the first quarter. Charlotte should look to push the pace from the outset and build an early lead before the Suns get their legs warmed up. Of course that would be easier with LaMelo Ball running point with his youth, energy, and enthusiasm, but the universe has decided we can’t have nice things.
Defending both Chris Paul and Devin Booker will present a problem for the Hornets. Paul can use his old man butt to back down Devonte’ Graham and facilitate the offense with minimal disruption. Booker stands 6-foot-5 and is a bit too big for Terry Rozier, but he’s also a bit too quick for Gordon Hayward. If Charlotte wins it will likely be because James Borrego found a way to prevent Paul and Booker from taking over the game on the offensive end.
Or the Hornets could just win because the Suns are still picking sleepy dust out of their eyes until halftime. Frankly, I don’t care how the Hornets pull it off as long as they get the W.
What’s your prediction for tonight’s game?
This poll is closed
Hornets win easy
Hornets win a close one
Suns win a close one
Suns win easy