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Preview: Can the Hornets get a quality road win against the upstart Timberwolves?

If Charlotte wants to be playoff bound, they have to start beating playoff-caliber opponents.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (29-29) at Minnesota Timberwolves (30-27)

When: 8:00 PM ET

Where: Target Center; Minneapolis, Minnesota

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

While we still aren’t at the All-Star break quite yet, the Hornets season is starting to hang in the balance on a week-to-week basis.

After starting the year 26-20 and appearing like a solid playoff team, the Hornets have now lost nine of their last 12 games. And let’s be honest: Charlotte’s last three wins weren’t all that impressive coming against a bad Pacers team, a struggling Lakers squad that was missing both LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and most recently against the cellar-dweller Pistons. The Hornets currently sit at No. 9 in the Eastern Conference standings and if their funk continues they run the risk of not even qualifying for the play-in tournament.

After tonight’s contest there are only 23 games left in the regular season. Coach James Borrego and his team need to right the ship - now! They need a quality road win against a quality opponent in the Timberwolves tonight tonight.

These two teams met back in November in Charlotte and the Hornets emerged with a 133-115 victory behind a game-high 27 points from Kelly Oubre Jr.

Minnesota Timberwolves overview

The Timberwolves come in hot having won six of their last eight games. They are led by their own version of a “Big Three” of center Karl-Anthony Towns, point guard D’Angelo Russell, and shooting guard Anthony Edwards. Towns (24.3 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 4.0 APG, 41% 3PT) was named this year to his third All-Star Team this year. Edwards (22.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.7 APG), the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft, is flashing All-Star potential in his second NBA season. Russell (19.0 PPG, 6.9 APG) can be both streaky and lethal as a scorer.

The starting five is rounded out by pesky (read: annoying) guard Patrick Beverly (8.9 PPG, 4.4 RGP, 5.0 APG) and unheralded forward Jarred Vanderbilt (7.2 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.5 SPG) who’s a sneakily good rebounder and defender.

Minnesota’s bench consists mainly of guard Malik Beasley (12.3 PPG), forward Jaden McDaniels (8.5 PPG) and center Naz Reid (8.1 PPG).

How the Hornets can win

This is going to be a tough road game for the Hornets. Minnesota comes in with the No. 9 offensive rating in the NBA at 112.0, just a hair above Charlotte’s 111.7. On the defensive end the Timberwolves rating of 110.2 ranks No. 16 in the league and is noticeably better than the Hornets 112.4, which is No. 24 in the NBA. On paper the Timberwolves have the advantage on both sides of the ball.

It will be interesting to see how Charlotte defends Karl-Anthony Towns with new addition Montrezl Harrell when the two players share the floor. Towns is a handful for any defense with his beautiful post game and 40%-plus 3-point shooting. The Hornets have traditionally struggled against premiere big men in the post so let’s see how Harrell’s energy and physicality impact this matchup.

We all know about the Hornets defensive struggles this year, but the Timberwolves have given up 114 points or more in six of their last seven games. Perhaps Charlotte can continue to ride the smoking-hot trio of LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, and Miles Bridges who have averaged a combined 70 points over the Hornets last four games. This has all the makings of a close, entertaining shootout.


What’s your prediction for tonight’s game?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Hornets win easy
    (14 votes)
  • 36%
    Hornets win a close one
    (42 votes)
  • 34%
    Timberwolves win a close one
    (40 votes)
  • 16%
    Timberwolves win easy
    (19 votes)
115 votes total Vote Now