Charlotte Hornets: First test of 2020 is a tough January set

Charlotte Hornets James Borrego. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets James Borrego. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

It’s 2020. A new decade of Charlotte Hornets basketball begins, but difficult opponents await in the month of January, making for a difficult stretch.

The Charlotte Hornets are in a state of disarray at the moment, and things aren’t going to get any easier as we enter 2020. Losers of six straight coming into today, the Hornets will see seven playoff (some championship) contending teams in January.

This could be a month that plays a big part in the outcome of their season. Charlotte, despite being ten games below the .500 mark, is still just 2.5 games out of the eighth and final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.

So, here are the playoff teams that the Hornets will encounter in January, in order from soonest to latest — Dallas (21-12), Indiana (22-12), Toronto (23-11), Utah (21-12), Denver (23-10), Orlando (14-19) and Milwaukee (30-5).

Dallas, Indiana, Toronto, Utah, Denver and Milwaukee all have potential to make deep runs during the postseason, while the Magic are still trying to figure out their potential. They made the playoffs last season, but have struggled so far this year. They are eighth in the Eastern Conference.

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Oh, and by the way, the Hornets will still be playing some competitive teams who are outside the playoff picture right now, like Portland and Phoenix. Those are games in which the Hornets won’t be favored, either.

I should also note that a few winnable games are sprinkled in during the month of January. Games against teams like Cleveland, New York and Washington are going to be games that they simply have to win if they want to be in the playoffs.

If the Hornets can somehow stay afloat during this stretch, they may still in the playoff picture. If they struggle, which I expect them to, it could seriously hurt their chances. The bottom of the Eastern Conference is a mess, though, so who know’s what will happen.

While anything can happen and the Hornets could very well pull out some upsets during this January stretch, the difference in talent and experience are pretty overpowering. We’ll see how much fight these young Hornets have.

This team may have exceeded expectations during the first quarter of the 2019-20 season, but there was a reason why most people had them finishing towards the bottom of the conference going into the season. I’m personally not expecting a 2020 turnaround.

2019 was a tough year for the Charlotte Hornets. Missing out on another year of playoff basketball was tough, but losing your franchise star in Kemba Walker was even tougher. Let’s hope this year will be better.

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2020 figures to be the same win/loss wise, but at least the team does have a clear direction moving forward. It’s going to be interesting to see where this team sits once this tough January schedule comes to an end.