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Preview: Rolling, rested Hornets square off against the inconsistent Hawks

The stars are aligning for a key home win for the Hornets.

Charlotte Hornets v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

What: Atlanta Hawks (20-25) at Charlotte Hornets (26-20)

When: 7:00 PM ET

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

The Hornets come into this one on a hot streak having won seven of their last eight games. The schedule has also done them some favors tonight. Charlotte played in New York on Wednesday, then had an easy home win on Friday against the Thunder. The Hawks, meanwhile, gutted out a tough home win against the Heat Friday night then had to come on the road to face another quality opponent. The Hornets should be rested. The Hawks, not so much. Thanks, NBA schedulers!

Atlanta Hawks Overview

Atlanta is one of the bigger disappointments in the league this year. Last season they seemed to take a huge step forward after going 41-31 and reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. As a team with a mix of youth and veterans, they seemed poised to be among the conference’s better teams this year. But at just 20-25, they simply haven’t been able to recapture last year’s magic. They were on a five-game losing streak before winning their last three games, including impressive wins against the Bucks and the Heat. They can still be dangerous.

Point guard Trae Young is having another monster season with averages of 27.9 points and 9.5 assists per game, though his 37.2% mark from the 3-point line is just “meh”. Starting shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic missed Friday’s game with a knee issue and was replaced by Kevin Huerter (11.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.9 APG) who’s a borderline starter anyway. Small forward De’Andre Hunter is the team’s third leading scorer at 12.8 PPG while shooting a solid 41.5% from the 3-point line. Power forward John Collins (17.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG) and Clint Capela (11.8 PPG, 13.1 RPG, 1.5 BPG) are a handful for almost any opposing defense, and will present problems for a Hornets team that lacks both quality and depth down low.

The Hawks bench may be without Danilo Gallinari who missed Friday’s game with an Achilles issue. If both Gallinari and Bogdanovic miss this game, Atlanta’s rotations will be thrown off and they’ll have to rely heavily on less proven guys like guard Delon Wright and big man Onyeka Okongwu.

How the Hornets Can Win

The Hornets and Hawks have split their season series 1-1 so far. Atlanta won 115-110 back in November against a pretty healthy Charlotte roster. The difference in that game was the Hawks getting 17 from Cam Reddish (who was recently traded to the Knicks) and 16 from Gallinari, who may not play in this one. Advantage Hornets.

Charlotte won 130-127 in early December thanks to incredible offensive performances from Miles Bridges (32 points on 11-of-15 shooting) and Kelly Oubre Jr. (28 points on 11-of-17 shooting). The Hornets were without LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Mason Plumlee, and Jalen McDaniels while the Hawks were mostly healthy. Again, advantage Hornets, though McDaniels will likely miss tonight’s game.

I don’t want to let the Hornets recent hot streak get me too cocky, but I genuinely think Charlotte is simply better than Atlanta this year. The Hawks may be down a couple of key players tonight while the Hornets are healthy. Charlotte’s players have also been sleeping in their own beds for the last several nights and should be rested.

While any NBA team can win on any given night, I’m feeling pretty confident about a Hornets victory in this one.

Poll

What’s your prediction for tonight’s game?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    Hornets win easy
    (30 votes)
  • 58%
    Hornets win a close one
    (60 votes)
  • 4%
    Hawks win a close one
    (5 votes)
  • 6%
    Hawks win easy
    (7 votes)
102 votes total Vote Now