When: 8:00 pm EST
Where: Target Center; Minneapolis, MN
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The Hornets have alternated wins and losses for their last ten games. The last of those entries was a loss, so that means tonight’s game is a win. It is decided. Preview is over.
But for real, tonight’s game against the Timberwolves is a great opportunity for the Hornets to finish the first half of the season on a high note. The Wolves are the worst team in the league this season, and they’ll be a little undermanned tonight. Malik Beasley, who was a major thorn in the side of the Hornets in the first meeting between these two teams, is out while he serves a suspension related to his offseason arrest. D’Angelo Russell is still out as he recovers from a knee procedure. That’s two fewer players to cash in open 3-pointers. That’s not a bad thing.
The Wolves have lost eight straight and twelve of their last thirteen games. In those 13 games, their opponents have averaged 119.3 points per game, third most in the league. They’re putting their opponents on the free throw line and giving up a lot of 3-pointers. Basically they’re not guarding any area of the court well. That’s a good sign for the Hornets.
The Hornets have some more good news, this time on the injury front. Gordon Hayward has been upgraded to probable tonight after missing two games with a hand contusion. Cody Zeller is questionable, while Devonte’ Graham is out. Even if Zeller doesn’t play, Hayward’s presence provides a huge boost to the Hornets on both ends of the floor and gives the team an extra body to throw out there after a couple games of running on fumes with a skeleton crew.
A win tonight would be a great way for the Hornets to finish and up and down first half of the season and position them for a strong second half of the season. They’ll open the post-All Star break second half with three winnable homes games before the schedule gets tough again. Tonight’s game is very important for positioning going into that stretch. Plus that would mean the Hornets finish this Western Conference swing 3-3, which can’t be seen as anything but a big win.