Apr 28, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Bobcats center Bismack Biyombo (0) dunks the ball during the second half against the Miami Heat in game four of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Time Warner Cable Arena. The Heat defeated the Bobcats 109-98. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Swarm and Sting round-table: NBA Schedule

The 2014-2015 NBA schedule was released on Wednesday. Everyone is excited for the upcoming season, especially the fans in Charlotte. The return of the Charlotte Hornets has everyone excited. Just the thought of NBA basketball coming back in a few months has everyone excited.

In honor of the schedule release, Swarm and Sting is launching another round-table. Participating in this round-table is Swarm and Sting’s Brett Thompson, Joey Owens, and H.T. Wells. Here are the questions and answers:

1. What were your initial thoughts of the Hornets’ schedule?

Brett Thompson - I like the Hornets schedule, if only because they get to start the season at home, as they should.  I love the Hornets travel schedule in November, starting on the 24th, where they play three straight home games, travel to Atlanta, come back home for three more home games, go to Memphis, and come back for one more home game.  That’s eight straight games within reasonable travel distance of each other, and that will serve well to preserve energy early in the season.  I also like that the Hornets get the Thunder on the wrong end of a back-to-back for OKC after Christmas, although I am outraged that Charlotte wasn’t considered for a Christmas Day game.

Joey Owens - My initial impressions are that there only seem to be two significant Western Conference stretches, in November and in March.  November looks a lot tougher because the West coast trip in March consists of Utah, Sacramento, and Minnesota (presumably without Kevin Love) so those aren’t too daunting.  We also look to coast into the playoffs and hopefully end the regular season on a high note, as only two or three teams in April are tough matchups for us.

H.T. Wells – This team’s chemistry will be tested early. Road trips in the NBA have the tendency to either expose a team’s warts or solidify it’s strengths. Six games in, we face our first West coast swing Nov 9 – Nov 15. 3 good teams and the Lakers. I think we will find out some things bout the team’s chemistry after this first early test. I’ve got Nov 19 marked on my calendar as it will be Lance Stephenson’s return to Indiana. Does he try too hard to prove the Pacer’s wrong and how does the result of this game affect the overall team? 

2. In your opinion, what is the toughest stretch of games the Hornets will face?

Brett Thompson - I think the toughest stretch of games the Hornets will play will be the late November-early December stretch where they travel to Miami, and get the Clippers, Blazers, and Warriors at home.  These are four sure-fire playoff teams, and while they are in the aforementioned prolonged “homestand,” the Hornets will be lucky to take two of the four games in that period.

Joey Owens – March 16th-28th looks to be a grueling set of games for us.  We have four straight road Western conference games, only to hop back to the East on the road against a great Chicago squad. Then we close out this awful stretch with three games in four days, all against tough Eastern Conference playoffs teams from last year in Brooklyn, Washington, and Atlanta.  Thank God April slows down a bit for us, because the wear and tear of a West coast trip will really take a toll on anybody.

H.T. Wells – Nov 11 – Nov 19th and Feb 21st – Feb 25th. The first stretch in November features West coast games at Lakers, at Portland, at Phoenix, then at Golden State. That’s two Western Playoff teams, a barely missing the playoffs Suns team and Kobe on a mission. Who will guard LaMarcus Aldridge in Portland? He’s just too big for Marvin Williams, and much too experienced for any of our young 4’s. The Hornets follow with a revamped Mavericks team in Charlotte, then return to the road for the aforementioned “Return Of Lance.” In February, the Hornets face a murderer’s row with OKC at home, followed by Dallas and Chicago on the road.

3. What team do you want to see the Hornets play against the most?

Brett Thompson - I’m most excited to see the Hornets play the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers.  I think, outside of LeBron James, the two teams match up fairly well, and Charlotte fans have been waiting far too long to see their team take down The King again (Charlotte hasn’t beaten LeBron since 2009-2010).  I believe the games against the Cavs will pack the Hive, created a playoff-like atmosphere in the arena, and just be an overall enjoyable match-up to watch as a spectator.

Joey Owens Everyone wants to see the marquee games against San Antonio, Cleveland, Houston, OKC and the Lob City Clippers, but I’m extremely excited on the Washington matchups.  We play them back-to-back at the beginning of February then coast into an easier three games right before the All-Star break.  I went to the Washington game right before the playoffs started last year and it was the most electrifying game I’d ever been to, with a come-from-behind victory from down double digits in the 4th.  The entire arena was buzzing.

H.T. Wells – Cleveland Cavaliers. Honorable mention – Chicago Bulls. I want to see how we measure up with the so-called “class of the East.”

4. What is the toughest month? Easiest month?

Brett Thompson – January is easily the toughest month for Charlotte this season. They have to face LeBron James and the Cavaliers twice (one on the road), travel to Toronto, play Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, and play the defending champion San Antonio Spurs twice.  They even have to go to Denver to face the Nuggets in one of the harder arenas to play in the NBA.  February will be much easier, however, as they only have to play 9 games in 28 days.  One of these games will be against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but a few are against lower level Eastern Conference squads like Boston or Detroit.

Joey Owens – The hardest month looks like it’ll be right out of the gate in November.  We play 17 games, 10 of which are against the Western Conference and 12 of the 17 are against playoff teams from last year.  Phoenix almost made the playoffs, and they’re a dangerous squad that should be one of our easier games in November.  That’s just how hard this month is for us, so I won’t be too surprised or upset if we get off to a slow start this year.  January is pretty tough too with two matchups against Cleveland and two against San Antonio.  April is nice and short and doesn’t seem to be too tough except the games against Toronto and the lone game against Dwight Howard and company.  I’d say that is the easiest month.

H.T. Wells – Toughest – November. 12 games against playoff teams from last year. Early season chemistry development for a team with some major additions. 5 division games. Easiest- December. One division game and only 5 games against playoff teams from last year. Plus, we play Boston, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee(twice)!
5. How many games will the Charlotte Hornets win next season?
Brett Thompson –  I can see Charlotte winning anywhere from 48-50 games this season, easily their winningest campaign since the inception of the Charlotte Bobcats.  This is the best Charlotte team since the expansion in 2004, and their win/loss record should show for it.
Joey Owens – With a quick sketch I have us at about 47-50 wins.  Some teams are pretty tough at home, but I consider us to be tough at home too, and with the Hornets being back in town I expect us to be a really hard nut to crack for teams coming into the Hive.  I expect 50 wins, we got 43 last year so there’s no reason to believe with our added depth and the signing of Lance Stephenson that we can’t squeak out 7 more games.  50 wins would put us at the 3rd seed last year, but the Eastern Conference has gotten more competitive this offseason so I think 50 wins will put us right around the 4th or 5th seed.  Making the playoffs two years in a row is a win for us, and something I’m thankful for.  Now let’s get ready for the season and pray nothing happens to Big Al!
H.T. Wells – 46 wins this season with a shot at homecourt advantage in the first round.
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