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Preview: Hornets Take On Zach Lavine-less Chicago Bulls

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Charlotte has to find some consistency starting tonight.

HOW TO WATCH

Matchup: Charlotte Hornets (28-29) @ Chicago Bulls (24-34)

Time: 9:00 p.m. (EDT)

Location: United Center, Chicago, Illinois

Channel(s): Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

After dropping a pivotal game against the New York Knicks, Charlotte will try to get back on track and keep pace in the Eastern Conference when they take on the lowly Chicago Bulls on the road. Chicago has lost six of their last eight games and will be without star player Zach Lavine due to health and safety protocols.

The Chicago Bulls have been an up and down team all year, after their blockbuster trade for Nikola Vučević they have not made much of a jump that most were expecting.

Chicago is however still in the mix for a play-in spot as they currently sit as the 12th seed in the Eastern Conference, half a game back from the 10th seed to qualify for the play-in tournament.

Keys To The Game

Slow Down Nikola Vučević

The key to the Chicago Bulls offense right now with the absence of Lavine is Nikola Vučević everything the Bulls do, starts with him. The Hornets have to force the ball out of Vučević hands and force the others on the Bulls roster to beat them. Even if that means trapping him every other possession, the Hornets cannot allow Vučević to have his way with them in the post.

Nikola Vučević when he gets going can pick apart a defense almost at will. The post moves are only a part of everything that he brings, Vučević is an underrated passer, and a smart player that is very capable of taking advantage of teams once he sucks in extra attention. It will be important for Charlotte to prevent him from getting to his spots and trying to establish rhythm.

Look for Cody Zeller and P.J Washington to be Vučević primary defenders but it will ultimately be a team effort defensively.

Consistency

The Hornets (albeit due to their lack of depth) have been inconsistent from quarter to quarter offensively as of late. That came to a peak in the last game against the New York Knicks where the Hornets followed a 66-point 1st half with an abysmal 33-point 2nd half. Credit to the Knicks who took their defensive intensity to another level, but the Hornets have to have some resolve when opponents make adjustments like that.

Miles Bridges and Devonte’ Graham

If Charlotte is going to hang around in the playoff picture while they wait for key pieces of their core to get healthy, Bridges and Graham have to step up there is no other way around it. Charlotte needs Bridges and Graham to play at starter level if they want to stay competitive in this final stretch of games before the playoffs.

Miles Bridges has started to round his game out a bit more as of late and Devonte’ Graham is starting to flash more consistency but both players have to ramp it up a bit more if they want to pull the team out of this recent slump, and keep them afloat for the postseason.