Charlotte Hornets travel to Dallas to take on Luka Doncic and the Mavericks

Charlotte Hornets Miles Bridges (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Miles Bridges (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Charlotte Hornets narrowly avoided losing their seventh straight game. Can they make it two in a row when they head to Dallas to take on the Mavericks?

Things were looking dire for the Charlotte Hornets (14-23) in their last game, but they managed to stick it out due to some late-game heroics. That win helped keep them in contention for the final playoff spot, putting them two and a half games back of the Orlando Magic for the 8th position in the Eastern Conference.

The two-game road stint continues as they head to Dallas to take on a tough Mavericks (22-12) squad, featuring the current leader in All-Star votes, Luka Doncic. Much has been made of Luka this year and with good reason.

The second-year player from Slovenia is averaging 29 points, nearly 10 rebounds, and 9 assists per game. He also leads the NBA with 9 triple-doubles. Needless to say, he’s making a strong case for league MVP… again, in just his second year.

A talent like that doesn’t come around too often and while last season was his rookie campaign, he did enough to make his presence felt in the two games against Charlotte. He averaged 18.5 points, 10 rebounds, and 8.5 assists in the Mavs’ two wins over the Hornets. Granted, these squads are vastly different than they were this time last year, but he is going to be a problem for the Hornets.

As previously touched on, Charlotte’s last game was a 109-106 win on the road over the Cleveland Cavaliers. They are nestled in the 9th spot in the Eastern Conference. The Mavs’ last outing was a 123-111 win over the Brooklyn Nets. They are 5th in the West. This is the first of two meetings between these two clubs.

Charlotte Hornets at Dallas Mavericks
8:30 p.m. EST, Saturday, January 4th, 2019
American Airlines Center
Fox Sports Southeast


Injury Report:




Delon Wright – Foot (Questionable)

Isaiah Roby – Foot (Questionable)

Tim Hardaway Jr. – Hamstring (Out)

Kristaps Porzingis – Knee (Out)

Ryan Broekhoff – Leg (Out)

Things to watch for:

Those are some pretty notable names in the injury report. Although Luka is obviously every team’s focus when matching up against the Mavericks, Porzignis and Hardaway Jr. are the next offensive options for Dallas.

Without them, the Hornets can pretty much just key in on Doncic. Of course, he’s not going to let a few things like added defensive pressure and using bigger defenders to stop him. Charlotte has their hands full, to say the least.

In their entire existence, the Hornets have swept the season series against Dallas just four times. If that seems low, it is, but given that they play only twice a year, it seems like it should be more. Of course, Dallas has been a playoff-caliber team more often than Charlotte, but 18 wins in 57 games against the Mavericks over 30 years is embarrassingly low. Perhaps a fifth time is in order?

Keys to the game:

You’d think a team that is 3rd in the NBA in scoring would be an efficient shooting team. While they’re not terrible, they rank just 15th in the league in field goal percentage. Of course, that’s much better than Charlotte who ranks 25th, but the Hornets have a tendency to let teams shoot well against them from time to time. So, they can’t afford to sag off shooters or let their often poor interior defense allow players easy buckets inside.

Dallas allows the 8th most offensive rebounds per game. That’s a bit odd given the players they have, but it bodes well for a Hornets team that ranks 6th in offensive boards. If Charlotte can keep the Mavs off the defensive glass, they can muster some opportunities for second-chance points, should they need them, of course.

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The next four games are going to be very tough matchups against some of the better teams in the league. If Charlotte wants to keep themselves in the hunt for the last playoff spot, they’re going to have to play at their best. We’ll see if they can return home with a much-needed win Saturday night in Dallas.