Who: Charlotte Hornets Vs. San Antonio Spurs
What: Regular Season Game #40
Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC
When: Wednesday, January 14th, 2015
TV: Fox SportSouth and NBA League Pass
Wednesday night marks the only visit of the year for the Western Conference’s San Antonio Spurs. More importantly, it’s also the only time Hornets fans get their chance to boo former Bobcat Boris Diaw (I will be booing on every touch, and I certainly hope you will join along with me). If you’re a new Hornets fan, you may not be familiar with the situation. Back when this franchise was, well, horrible, Diaw quit on the team and demanded a trade until he was finally released. Tonight, the Hornets will look to continue their winning ways against Diaw and the Spurs, as they go for six wins in a row.
PG: Kemba Walker Vs. Tony Parker
SG: Gerald Henderson Vs. Danny Green
SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Vs. Marco Belinelli
PF: Cody Zeller Vs. Tiago Splitter
C: Bismack Biyombo Vs. Tim Duncan
Question and Answers
Since we’re nearly at the halfway point, Mark Calcagno and I will give our thoughts on some key questions regarding the season, as well as tonight’s matchup.
Q: Do you see the Hornets making the playoffs? If so, with how many wins and at what seed?
JH: Once again, the two conferences in the NBA are far from even. While the difference in win totals between the East and the West aren’t quite as dramatic as last season, there’s still a significant drop off. As you may know, if the Hornets were in the Western Cnference, their season would now be all but over. Thankfully they’re in the East, and the situation is different. It’ll be hard for the Hornets to get any higher than the 6th seed, but they certainly have a good shot to make the postseason. I expect Charlotte to sneak into the playoffs with a win total somewhere around 40.
MC: Look, the East is pretty terrible this season (as always), so anything is possible for the Hornets from a playoff perspective. When I look at the standings, in my opinion, you have five teams that are locks to make the postseason: Atlanta, Toronto, Washington, Toronto, and Cleveland. That means you have basically three spots for the Hornets to wiggle themselves into. Right now, these seeds are currently being occupied by a young Bucks team, a drowning Miami club, and an elderly Brooklyn group. Barring a spectacular change of play by any of these three, all things considered, the Hornets look to be in pretty good shape right now, sitting just a game-and-a-half outside the number eight seeded Nets. As long as Lance’s return doesn’t cause a dramatic shift in chemistry that shows up on the court, I can certainly see the Hornets pulling into the seven seed with a resurgent Pistons club coming in right behind them.
Q: Since the current team is playing so well, what should the Hornets do with Lance Stephenson and Al Jefferson?
JH: What’s most ironic about the Hornets win streak is the fact that it comes without their top investments from each of the past two summers. The Lance Stephenson situation is a tricky one. Odds are, if you shop him to another team, he will turn things around. Cho needs to seriously think about how long he waits on him to show up. In terms of Jefferson, you have to stick with him. As soon as he’s healthy, he’ll be inserted back into the starting unit. Anything less than that would be unfair to a proven NBA veteran.
MC: You obviously have to keep Al. Playoffs or not, Jefferson is a corner piece for this franchise and should not be traded for anything less than LeBron James (joking). While Big Al could decide to leave Charlotte after the end of the season, it seems like he’s pretty content playing with the Hornets under Steve Clifford and will likely return next season, giving the Hornets an even better opportunity to prove themselves in 2015-16.
As far as Lance goes, I’m not as big of a fan of his. Maybe it’s not right of me to give up on him after just 25 games, but he certainly hasn’t been what we’d thought he be at the beginning of the season. If the deal’s right, I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on a trade with Stephenson for a 3-point shooting guard.
Speaking of shooting, did you know that the Hornets rank 27th out of 30 NBA teams in three-pointers made? Whether it’s trading Lance or not, Rich Cho and company need to address this issue if they are planning on making a serious playoff push.
Q: What do you think is the key to success for the Hornets in tonight’s contest? Will Kemba and company make it six in a row?
JH: The Hornets have really impressed me lately. Quite honestly, I didn’t expect a five game winning streak to occur during the month without Al Jefferson. Tonight will be a really tough task against a savvy Spurs team. Look for Marvin Williams to have a big game for the Hornets off the bench. Hornets 101 - Spurs 90.
MC: The Spurs will be coming off the backend of a two games in two days stretch when they come to Charlotte on tonight. If the Hornets want to dethrone the champions, they must push the ball and look for points and transition. Make the Spurs do something that they don’t want to do: run. Hornets win 105-99.
For those of you not attending tonight's game, it can be seen live on SportSouth at 6:30 with Hornets Live! On the radio side, the game will be available on 610AM, WFNZ.
Lead Hornets Writer: Jonathon Hoppe