Sunday Scouting (On Monday?) 10/30-11/5

Sunday Scouting:

 

Last week was a mildly successful week for the Hornets. They got good wins over the Nuggets and the surprising Orlando Magic, while dropping games on the road to Giannis and the Bucks and Harden and the Rockets. (It was also a successful week for my predictions as I was able to get all 4 correct haha). This upcoming week might be one of the Hornet’s toughest weeks of the season purely from a matchup stand point. They begin the week on the road tomorrow with the second half of a back to back and then play every other day for the rest of the week. This week will be a huge indicator of the Hornet’s intentions this season in the Eastern Conference. So let’s get cracking on some scouting reports.

 

On a personal note, I go to school in VA, so I don’t get to make it to the Hive all that often, but I will be there Wednesday night for the Bucks game. If any of you are going to be there, let me know. I’d love to make some new Hornets friends!

 

@dallaswpeyton18

 

@ Memphis Grizzlies (5-1)                                                                Monday, 10/30 at 8pm

 

Matchup Overview:

Image result for Hornets v. grizzlies

(Image from NBA.com)

On Monday night, the Hornets will take on the Grizzlies for the first time this season. The two teams met twice last season and split the meetings with the away team taking both matchups. The Hornets are going to be playing on the second night in a row with the chance to move their record above .500. The Grizzlies meanwhile will be hoping to maintain their spot at the top of the tough Western Conference with a win.

 

Recent Form:

 

The Grizzlies have been arguably the best team in the league so far in the young season, with 2 wins over the Rockets and a win over the defending champs. The Hornets will be the 3rd in a 4-game home stand and their second game in 3 days. Their lone loss on the season came on the first night of a back-to-back against the Mavs, who they then defeated the following day by 5 points.

 

Key Players and Recent Performers:

Image result for Marc gasol and conley

(Image from ClutchPoints)

The Grizzlies had the same core of players for many years, but the band was broken up a little bit this summer when Z-Bo left to sign with the Kings. But in his absence, Conley and Gasol have continued to play at a high level and have carried this team so far. The younger Gasol brother is averaging a double-double at 22 ppg and 10 rpg. Meanwhile, Conley is averaging 17.5 ppg and 4 apg as one of the top PG’s in the West. One thing to note with Conley is that his shooting percentage is hovering around 40% which is lower than his career average of 45%. This might be a direct result of the increased responsibility that he has in the offense with the absence of Z-bo.

 

Key Team Stats:

 

One Positive for the Hornets: 25.6 FTA

 

The Hornets have been one of the best teams in the league at getting to the free throw line and the Grizzlies have allowed opponents to take 25.6 FT per game, which is one of the 7 worst averages in the league. Hopefully the Hornets will be able to take advantage of this and get a lot of free points in a matchup that promises to be a defensive battle.

 

One Negative for the Hornets: 40% FG

 

The Grizzlies are one of the best defensive teams in the league and hold their opponents to the lowest shooting percentage in the league at 40%. This means that the Hornets could struggle to get and make quality looks against this physical team from the Western Conference.

 

Matchup to Watch:

Image result for Hornets v. grizzlies

(Image from Charlotte Observer)

Kemba Walker v. Mike Conley. This is a matchup of 2 PG who have one skill at which they excel and it helps vault them into the league’s elite. We all know that Kemba is an excellent pick-and-roll ball handler and has been balling this year with DH12 to work with. Conley on the other hand is one of the best defenders in the league at the PG spot. This matchup will go a long way towards determining who wins this game.

 

Final Thoughts:

 

This game features 2 of the slower paced teams in the league and will most likely be a physical, defensive battle. Points are going to be hard to come by, so the Hornets need to be sure to make the most of their trips to the FT line. This game will be made even more difficult by the fact that the Hornets played on Sunday before having to travel and get ready to go less than 24 hours after beating the Magic. A win would be a major victory for the Hornets and would help build some confidence going into games against Milwaukee and San Antonio.

RESULTS: Since I was a little late getting this week’s article published, we have some exciting things to talk about from tonight’s game. On the second night of a back to back, with Howard only putting up 2 points, and playing against the #1 team in the West, it doesn’t seem like the ideal scenario for the Hornets to get a win. But that is exactly what they did.

They managed to come back from down 11 to beat the Grizzlies. A huge game from Kemba Walker, a solid night from Jeremy Lamb, and strong contributions off the bench allowed the Hornets to take this one. Also, as we pointed out earlier, the Hornets needed to take advantage of the Grizzlies tendency to foul and turn it into free points, and they managed to do this really well. The Hornets got to the line 29 times and managed to convert that into 23 points. Kemba was the main guy here, shooting 12/13 on the night.

Another major key is that MKG and the rest of the Hornets matched up well with Conley and forced him to shoot 4-18 from the field. Hopefully they can take this defense and use it to slow down Giannis on Wednesday.

The Hornets are now above .500 for the first time this season. Hopefully they will use the confidence from this game to beat the Bucks and begin something great.

Milwaukee Bucks (4-2) Wednesday, 11/1 at 7pm

Image result for Hornets v. bucks

(Image from Behind the Buck Pass)

Matchup Overview:

The Hornets and Bucks met for the first time this season last week in Milwaukee with the Bucks taking the contest by 9 points. They used a big 3rd quarter to secure the lead and never gave it back. Overall the Bucks are one game ahead of the Hornets in the playoff race after the first 6 games of the season. This matchup will be an important one throughout the season as both teams seem set to fight for seeding in the East.

 

Recent Form:

 

Since that game, they’ve gone 1-1 with a loss to the Celtics at home and a win on the road in Atlanta. Prior to the game on Wednesday, they have a meeting with Russell Westbrook and the OKC Thunder at home on Tuesday. From a Hornets’ perspective, the hope is that the Thunder can beat up on Bucks a little bit so the Hornets might be able to get a little bit of an advantage.

 

Key Players and Recent Performers:

Image result for Giannis v hornets

(Image from YouTube)

I may sound like a broken record, but the Bucks are more reliant on Giannis than perhaps any other team in the league is reliant on a single player. If you take a look at the Bucks leaders for the season, Giannis leads the team in every single category (points, assists, rebounds, and steals) except blocks (he’s second). He has also been the highest scorer on the court in every game that the Bucks have played this season. Needless to say, Giannis is going to be the Hornets main concern on Wednesday. The only other player worth mentioning is Khris Middleton. After starting the season out slowly, he’s caught fire the last few games and has averaged 20 ppg over the last 4. He had 20 in the game against the Hornets last week, and can supplement Giannis enough to help the Bucks be successful.

Key Team Stats:

 

One Positive for the Hornets: 38.7 rpg

 

Mainly thanks to the efforts of one Dwight Howard, the Hornets have been one of the best rebounding teams in the league through the first 6 games. The Bucks meanwhile are the worst team in league for rebounds with their average of 38.7 rpg. The hope is the Hornets will be able to dominate the glass and get extra chances on offense while preventing the Bucks from getting more than one shot per possession.

 

One Negative for the Hornets: 34.7 ppg

 

Often over the past few years, the Hornets have had trouble slowing down the number 1 option for many of their opponents. This means that Giannis and his 34.7 ppg might be able to cause some major issues for the Hornets defense. The main saving factor here is that the Hornets will have MKG back who they did not have when Giannis went for 30 in the first matchup.

 

Matchup to Watch:

Image result for malik monk hornets

(Image from NBA.com)

Malik Monk v. Rashad Vaughn. One of the biggest problems for these two clubs is that when the starters are not on the floor, the bench struggles to keep up with the opposition. That being said, I believe that the Hornets should have a major advantage when the second units are on the floor. The Buck’s bench is mainly filled with players who ususally struggle to score the basketball. The highest ppg of any of their rotation guys is Greg Monroe at 6.7 ppg. The hope here is that Monk and the rest of the second unit will be able to take advantage of this and allow Kemba, Dwight, and the other starters to get some rest.

 

Final Thoughts:

 

This will be a tough game for the Hornets but just like last week, if they can slow down the Buck’s options behind Giannis, then they will have a chance to win the game. Hopefully being at home this time will the difference needed for the Hornets to come out with a W.

 

@ San Antonio (4-2)                                                              Friday, 11/3 at 7pm

 

Matchup Overview:

Image result for spurs v hornets

The third game of the week for the Hornets might be the toughest of them all. On Friday, they will travel to Texas to take on Popovich’s Spurs for the first time this season. The Hornets lost both of their matchups with the Spurs last year, but hope to get the series off to a better start this season with a win.

 

Recent Form:

 

The Spurs started off the season 4-0 before inexplicably dropping both of their last 2 games to the Magic and the Pacers. The Spurs will look to get right on Monday night against the Celtics on the road for their 4th straight game away from home. Following that matchup, they have 2 days of rest to prepare to face the Warriors at home on Thursday before playing the Hornets come to town.

 

Key Players and Recent Performers:

Image result for lamarcus aldridge

(Image from Project Spurs)

In the absence of Leonard and Parker, who have yet to play this season due to injury, LaMarcus Aldridge has been the go-to man for the Spurs, and he has answered the call. He’s averaging nearly 27 points and 9 rebounds per game to go with 1.33 blocks on the defensive end. Even as the focal point of the offense, he has been able to remain efficient and has shot over 50% from the floor. Outside of LA, the options get pretty thin. The next highest scorers are Rudy Gay and Danny Green who are both averaging less than 12 ppg.

 

Key Team Stats:

 

One Positive for the Hornets: 2 games

 

The Hornets seem to be catching the Spurs at the best possible time in the season. With Leonard and Parker still injured, the Spurs are not nearly as strong as they are going to be at full strength. The other thing is that the Hornets will be playing them on the second day of their back to back with the first game coming against the Warriors. All of this seems to make the Spurs more valuable than they usually are under Pop.

 

One Negative for the Hornets: 1 win

 

History is not on the side of the Hornets. Since the start of the 2010-2011 season, the Charlotte franchise has won exactly 1 game against the Spurs in 13 tries. This win came 2 years ago at the hive when Jeremy Lin led an incredible comeback to overcome a 23 point deficit and finally take down a Popovich led team.

 

Matchup to Watch:

Image result for jeremy lamb and danny green

(Image from Charlotte Observer)

Jeremy Lamb v. Danny Green. In both of the Spurs last 2 losses, there has been one common denominator: excellent guard play. In the loss to the Pacers, Victor Oladipo went off for 23, while Fournier had 25 for Orlando. Danny Green has been an excellent role player off the bench for the Spurs during his career, but is not cut out to be a starting shooting guard. As such, Lamb, who has started the season on fire, should be able to take care of Green’s defensive weakness to the benefit of the Hornets.

 

Final Thoughts:

 

The Spurs are an experienced and well-coached group of players who play in a system designed to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts. Playing at home, this is going to be one of the Hornet’s toughest matches of the season. The hope is that they will be able to take advantage of the absences in the Spurs lineup to pull out a major W.

 

@ Minnesota (3-3)                                                                  Sunday, 11/5 at 8pm

 

Matchup Overview:

Image result for minnesota v hornets

(Image from Zimbio)

To end the week, the Hornets will travel to Minnesota to take on the young Timberwolves. The Hornets met the T-Wolves twice last season and they split the series 1-1 with the away team winning both matchups. This is one of the matchups that could do the Hornets a lot of good if they can manage to take 2 games from the Wolves.

 

Recent Form:

 

The Timberwolves are very inconsistent so far this season with losses to Indiana, Detroit, and Spurs while managing to beat the Thunder twice and the Utah Jazz. They have beaten 2 sold teams, while the loss to Indiana seems to be a little bit troubling. Ahead of this matchup with the Hornets, they have games against the Heat, Pelicans, and Mavs. The Mavs game is the first of a back to back

 

Key Players and Recent Performers:

Image result for KAT, Butler, Wiggins

(Image from Cody Schilling on Twitter)

The Timberwolves big 3 of KAT, Wiggins, and Butler have all performed well so far this season. Towns is the main guy for this team with a line of 24.8 ppg, 11.8 rpg, and 1.8 bpg. He excels in many areas and allows the Timberwolves to a do a lot on the offensive end of the floor. The other two guys are both averaging more than 16 points with Jimmy Butler in particular filling up the stat sheet in other areas as well. The main thing to notice about these 3 is that they all score the ball efficiently, with over 45% shooting from each of them.

 

Key Team Stats:

 

One Positive for the Hornets: 51.7% FG

 

The Timberwolves are one of the worst teams in the league defensively and should allow the Hornets to get good looks at the basket. They currently are allowing opponents to shoot 51.7% from the floor which is the worst mark in the league.

 

One Negative for the Hornets: 106.5 OFFRTG

 

On the other side of the ball though, the Timberwolves excel. They have the 7th highest offensive rating in the league at 106.5 and could hurt the Hornets if they do not lock in on that end of the floor.

 

 

Matchup to Watch:

Image result for karl anthony towns v howard

(Zimbio)

Karl Anthony Towns v. Dwight Howard. This game features one of the best centers in the league from years past against one of the main futures of the center position in the NBA. KAT has been a good player since being drafted number 1 overall, but will go against one of the best defenders in the league at the center position. On the other end of the court, Howard and Kemba should be able to eat against a poor pick-and-roll defender in KAT. Winning this matchup will go a long way towards a Hornets win.

 

Final Thoughts:

 

The Timberwolves are extremely young and exciting to watch, but they have yet to find their identity on the defensive end that is usually so standard of Tom Thibodeau coached teams. If they get hot, they could create some issues for the Hornets defense, but the Hornets are typically one of the most disciplined teams in the league and this should be a major factor in this game.

 

 

Predictions for the Week:

 

This is a tough week for the Hornets and I would not be entirely surprised if they end up going 1-3 or 0-4, but I’m going optimistic here and predicting 2-2. Hopefully I’m wrong and we see them get some major success against some of their best competition to date.

 

L @ Memphis: I think the Grizzlies will take this one on their own floor. The Hornets bench is not strong enough to outlast the Western Conference leaders. (Oops, missed this one)

 

W v. Milwaukee: I think the Hornets will get revenge on the Bucks in this game at home.

 

L @ San Antonio: Popovich is one of the best coaches in the league for a reason, and I don’t

see the Hornets being able to reverse their fortunes in this one.

 

W @ Minnesota: Minnesota has some great pieces on offense, but the Hornets are a good enough defensive team to slow them down. I think we can win this one on the road.

 

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