The Charlotte Hornets go into the All-Star break with a 17-18 record, which is as close to .500 as they can be at this point. Over the team’s last 11 games they have done everything in their power to hover close to breakeven without going over by alternating wins and losses in a statistically remarkable fashion. Take a look at the bizarre win-loss pattern the Hornets have woven in recent games:
- Win - Feb 8 vs. Houston Rockets
- Loss - Feb 10 at Memphis Grizzlies
- Win - Feb 12 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
- Loss - Feb 14 vs. San Antonio Spurs
- Win - Feb 20 vs. Golden State Warriors
- Loss - Feb 22 at Utah Jazz
- Win - Feb 24 at Phoenix Suns
- Loss - Feb 26 at Golden State Warriors
- Win - Feb 28 at Sacramento Kings
- Loss - Mar 1 at Portland Trail Blazers
- Win - Mar 3 at Minnesota Timberwolves
That makes an 11-game streak of alternating between wins and losses, spanning nearly a full calendar month.
With the outcome of most NBA games being somewhere near a 50-50 proposition, this is a pretty random way for Charlotte to compile a 17-18 record. From a fan perspective, it’s been a bit frustrating to see the team hovering so close to being at or above .500, only to lose once again. They keep flirting with a winning record, but when it comes time to seal the deal they get as tentative as Will Farrell’s character Buddy the Elf asking Jovie out on a date.
There’s something powerful in being able to say “the Hornets have a winning record”. Being above .500 brings some additional credibility to a team in the playoff hunt. It makes a team look more legitimate, even if they are only one game above breakeven. I really hope the Hornets can come out of the All-Star break and string together a winning streak and drop the stigma of having a losing record.
So what does the Hornets 11-game win-loss flip-flop tell us about this team? When looking at opponents and home versus road games, it tells us the Hornets generally play up to expectations. Wins against the Rockets, Timberwolves (twice), and Kings should be expected, while the victories at home against the Warriors and on the road against the Suns were impressive.
Four of the five losses were also predictable, including dropping road games against some of the better teams in the Western Conference in the Spurs, Jazz, Warriors and Trail Blazers. The Hornets only regrettable loss during this stretch was a 16-point drubbing at the hands of the Grizzlies.
The Eastern Conference playoff hunt is a jumbled mess between the No. 4 and No. 11 seeds. At 17-18 the Hornets are just 1.5 games behind the 19-17 Boston Celtics for the No. 4 seed, but on the flip side they are only 1.5 games ahead of the 11th seed Atlanta Hawks at 16-20. Every game matters for this year’s Hornets.
Charlotte has three winnable home games coming out of the All-Star break against the Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors, and Sacramento Kings. Winning all three of these contests would put the Hornets at a respectable 20-18 and right in the middle of the battle for a Top 6 seed and an automatic playoff berth.
When play resumes, let’s hope Charlotte can put down the yo-yo and build an actual winning streak.