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Preview: The Hornets head to New York to face a hot Knicks team in an afternoon clash

Yet another game that could loom large when playoff seeds are awarded in April.

New York Knicks v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (23-20) at New York Knicks (22-21)

When: 1:00 PM ET

Where: Madison Square Garden; New York, NY

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

As part of the NBA’s broader efforts to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, a handful of games will tip off in the early afternoon Eastern time today, including a 1:00 start time for the Hornets as they visit the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Charlotte had won four straight games, including two key victories against the Milwaukee Bucks and one against the Philadelphia 76ers, but then dropped a bad one on Friday night at home against the Orlando Magic. The Hornets and Knicks will likely be jostling for the rest of the season for a fringe playoff spot or seeding in the play-in tournament, so this game could loom large later on.

The Knicks have some momentum coming in to this one having won five of their last six games.

New York Knicks Overview

The biggest news coming out of New York recently is last week’s trade with the Atlanta Hawks sending Cam Reddish to the Knicks for Kevin Knox and a future first round pick. Reddish has yet to suit up for his new team and will miss today’s game with an ankle injury. For Hornets fans who care, the future first New York sent to Atlanta is the same protected pick Charlotte traded to the Knicks in last year’s draft for the rights to Kai Jones.

As a reminder, here are the protections for the Hornets future first rounder they owe for Kai, which would now convey to New York:

  • 2022 - 1-18
  • 2023 - 1-16
  • 2024 - 1-14
  • 2025 - 1-14
  • If not conveyed after 2025, will turn into two second round picks

The Knicks start Alec Burks (11.9 PPG, 41% 3PT) at guard with Evan Fournier (13.7 PPG, 39% 3PT) and RJ Barrett (16.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG) on the wings. Power forward Julius Randle (19.1 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 5.0 APG) is a bull down low, but his 3-point shot has abandoned him at 31.3% on 5.5 attempts per game. Center Mitchell Robinson (8.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.6 BPG) is a decent rim protector but has a history of inconsistency.

Kemba Walker has missed the Knicks last eight games with left knee soreness and is questionable for today’s showdown. The former Hornet had been out of New York’s rotation from late-November until mid-December. When he was finally reinserted into the lineup he dropped 29, 21, and a monstrous 44 points in his first three games back. Basketball is meant to be entertaining and it will be much more enjoyable for us as fans if Kemba’s on the court. Let’s hope he suits up but falls short of having a revenge game against his former team.

New York’s bench is led by guard Immanuel Quickly and forward Obi Toppin. Big man Nerlens Noel, usually the team’s backup center, is listed as out for this game so veteran Taj Gibson will likely fill the void down low.

How the Hornets Can Win

Charlotte and New York played just over two months ago and the Hornets pulled out a 104-96 win. The key to victory in today’s game is embedded in the final score:

Ninety-six.

The Hornets held the Knicks to less than 100 points the last time these teams played and came away victorious. The same pattern of Charlotte winning when they hold their opponents to under 100 points held true in their two recent victories against the Bucks (99 points) and the Sixers (98 points).

The Knicks rank 23rd in the league in offensive rating and 25th in effective field goal percentage, so this is a team that can struggle to score. (That said, the Orlando Magic rank 28th in offensive rating and just laid 116 points on the Hornets porous defense, so let’s not take anything for granted).

Defense, once again, will be paramount for James Borrego’s squad. Let’s see if they can hold the Knicks to under 100 points and come away with a big win.

Poll

What do you predict from today’s game?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Hornets win easy
    (11 votes)
  • 41%
    Hornets win a close one
    (26 votes)
  • 33%
    Knicks win a close one
    (21 votes)
  • 6%
    Knicks win easy
    (4 votes)
62 votes total Vote Now