The Charlotte Hornets face off against the Portland Trail Blazers in the second of a West Coast back-to-back.
Back-to backs are nothing new for NBA teams, but when you’re nearly 3,000 miles away from home and you have one, it can be a daunting task. That’s the situation the Charlotte Hornets (15-27) find themselves in right now as they’ll immediately travel to Portland to take on the Trail Blazers (16-24) for the first time this season.
Portland isn’t their usual self this season. We’re accustomed to seeing them in the mix for the playoffs, but they’re struggling as much as the Hornets are this year. Much of that, of course, is due to injuries, something a lot of teams are dealing with right now.
Because of this, now is the right time to try and defeat the Blazers, something the Hornets haven’t done since January of 2017. They’ll certainly need to beat them so they can get themselves out of a four-game losing streak. With two more games on the West Coast stint, they can ill afford to return to Charlotte having lost six straight.
The Hornets’ last game was a 100-92 loss to the Phoenix Suns. They are 9th in the Eastern Conference. Portland’s last outing was a 122-101 defeat at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks. They are 10th in the West. This is the first of two matchups with the Blazers.
Charlotte Hornets at Portland Trail Blazers
10:00 p.m. EST, Monday, January 13th, 2020
Fox Sports Southeast
Mario Hezonja – Back (Questionable)
Hassan Whiteside – Illness (Questionable)
Skal Labissiere – Knee (Out)
Jusuf Nurkic – Leg (Out)
Rodney Hood – Achilles (Out)
Zach Collins – Shoulder (Out)
Things to watch for:
Obviously, this being a back-to-back, fatigue could play into this game for Charlotte. The Hornets are 6-11 in back-to-backs so far this season, with this matchup being the 18th back-to-back they will have played this season. They still have three more back-to-back situations in the season, so they have plenty of chances of improving that record.
As I touched on before, Portland has won five straight over the Hornets dating back to 2017. The average margin of victory in those games is 13 points. As banged up as the Blazers are, you have to think that streak could end, but the Hornets have proved me wrong on several occasions.
Keys to the game:
The Trail Blazers rank dead last in the NBA in assists per game. Funny how the Hornets will face the league leaders and then the guys in last in that stat in consecutive games.
It’s also odd considering the backcourt Portland has, but their overall field goal percentage is much lower than it usually is. In any case, if Charlotte can limit Portland’s offense and keep them from making passes to open shooters, it will benefit them immensely.
Portland allows its opponents to snag the most rebounds per game. That’s on both sides of the ball as well. That’s good news for a Charlotte team that is one of the weaker rebounding teams in the NBA. If they can establish position under the basket on both ends of the floor, then that will certainly help their cause.
Charlotte’s longest losing streak this season is six games. If they lose their next two, they’ll tie that. The team definitely doesn’t want that to happen, so a win here is a must. We’ll see if they can hand Portland another loss late Monday night.