The Charlotte Hornets and Atlanta Hawks face off on four occasions each season and, well, not every one of those is closely scrutinized on a national scale. However, Friday night marks the first battle between the two teams this season, and given how well both units are playing, there is a bit of additional intrigue.
Technically, the Hornets have lost two of their last three games, but both losses came to superior opponents (Toronto, Cleveland) and, aside from that, Charlotte has been lights-out. Kemba Walker is playing the best basketball of his career (25.8 points, 5.5 assists, 1.9 steals, 29.1 PER) and he has been the biggest story for Steve Clifford’s bunch. Elsewhere, the Hornets are, once again, defending at a high level in allowing less than a point per possession (4th in the NBA) and they present a fundamentally solid, eternally solid baseline that forces opponents to beat them instead of beating themselves.
On the Atlanta side, the Hawks are coming off an interesting back-to-back set in which the team did not play particularly well but was still able to grab two victories. Earlier in the day, it was reported by Chris Vivlamore of the AJC that Dwight Howard will return to action, but Thabo Sefolosha will miss his second straight game, leaving Taurean Prince as a likely member of the rotation once again.
From a match-up perspective, Dennis Schröder will have his hands full with Kemba Walker in this spot and there is no question about that. Atlanta’s young point guard does not need to win the individual battle at the position on this night, but for the Hawks to get a leg up on the road, it would be nice to generate the equivalent of a draw in that face-off. Elsewhere, old pal Marvin Williams will be tasked with defending Paul Millsap and subjected to his terror on the other end, and that is a favorable spot for the Hawks despite Williams’ late-career surge.
Stay tuned throughout the day for updates on the injury situations and full coverage of the action. In the meantime, here are the particulars to follow the game this evening.
Game Date/Time: Friday, November 18, 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: Spectrum Center
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
Radio: 92.9 “The Game” FM