After losing three of their last four games, the Charlotte Hornets are hoping to steal a win on the road when they travel to San Antonio.
The Charlotte Hornets (20-17) are set to take on the San Antonio Spurs (29-7) as they continue their current five-game road trip. Charlotte’s coming off of a heartbreaking loss to the Detroit Pistons in a game where they lost Nicolas Batum to an injury. The minor knee injury will keep the wing player out of this matchup and hinder the Hornets’ chances of winning.
In their last game, the Spurs were able to defeat the Denver Nuggets leading to their fourth win in their last five games. San Antonio has also won eight of their past 10 as their consistent play has them second in the always tough Western Conference. The Hornets and Spurs met once previously this season in a match where San Antonio came away with an 119-114 win in Charlotte.
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This will be the second and final meeting of the year for these two sides as Steve Clifford’s side looks to level the season series. It will be a tough task for the visiting team without Nic Batum in the lineup and potentially without Cody Zeller (concussion) as well. It would be quite the upset if the hornets could pull off the shorthanded victory.
OUT – Nicolas Batum (hyperextended right knee), injured on 1/5 QUESTIONABLE – Cody Zeller (concussion protocol), missed last three games (1/2 – 1/5)
Perimeter Defense vs Great Three-Point Shooting
The Hornets are a top-10 team in the league in terms of defending the three-point line this season. They only allow their opponents to shoot 35.1% from beyond the arc which is tied for the ninth-best mark in the NBA. They will need to run San Antonio off the three-point line as perimeter defense will be a major key for them in this one.
On the other hand, the Spurs are the best three-point shooting team in terms of percentage this year. They are shooting 41.4% from deep which is nearly three percentage points better than the Toronto Raptors who are in second place at 38.9%. This means that Gregg Popovich’s team not only makes shots but they get open/good looks from three. Limiting their easy opportunities is important for the Hornets.
MKG has had a tough time defending superstar level opponents this season LeBron James, Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony, DeMar DeRozan, and even Kawhi Leonard have scored over 30 points on him. Kidd-Gilchrist didn’t do a great job against Leonard last time and with his limited offensive skill set, he needs to lock his man down on defense to make a positive impact for his side. It will be important that he limits Leonard in this one.
Kawhi is averaging a team-high 24 points per game this season which is a career clip for the small forward. The Spurs man has recorded eight 30-point games so far this year with one of them coming against the Charlotte Hornets. Keeping him under 30 should be the main focus for MKG who’s defensive greatness has waned a bit this season.