The Hornets have reached that point in the season that Charlotte basketball fans have become accustom to, the time period in which the losing begins to become so prevalent that you are forced to frantically search for potential trades that could hopefully shake things up enough to get us into the 8th seed. It has been long enough since the season started that injuries are starting to take over but the playoffs are too far away to motivate, at this point in the season most teams are just praying to get through January and reach the All-Star Break. Charlotte basketball fans have not seen a playoff win since the 2001-2002 season, to put that in perspective I was in 8th grade the last time we won a playoff game…….I am now 28. However, it is important that we as fans do not become complacent, demand better and continue to cheer on our team. With that being said, tonight’s game against the Hawks and every game until the All Star break is extremely crucial.
Now, let’s take a look at this Hawks matchup tonight. The Hawks lead the overall series by 15 games, they are first in our division with a record of 23-15, and they’ve won the 2 previous meetings this season by a combined 5 points (including our home opener). Now if you read the nationally written game previews they will tell you that Hawks score in the paint well and the Hornets don’t, while that is true the Hawks are almost dead last in the NBA in rebounding, this is a perfect opportunity for Cody Zeller to step up. Cody has been on a bit of a rebounding tear the past few games, he has been in the double-digits for boards 3 out of the last 5 games. If we can get our bigs to rebound we can eliminate those second chance points in the paint (Spencer, I am looking at you, it is time for you to have some kind of impact).
In the previous two matchups the Hornets have also shot much better from 3 than the Hawks, we are going to need that good perimeter shooting and perimeter defense we saw from the Hornets at the beginning of the year to happen tonight. While from the outside looking in, the Hawks would appear to be a heavy favorite, winning 15 out of their last 18 games, and the two previous matchups against the Hornets, however the Hornets are a much better team at home and are a better team at home than the Hawks are on the road.
It is time to stop making excuses for this team and this organization, this fanbase has waited almost 15 long years for a playoff win. The Hornets need to win and they need to win NOW. If Charlotte can get a string of wins going this month they could easily find themselves back in the playoff hunt, they are only 2.5 games back behind the 8th seeded Magic.