3 Make or break stretches in the Charlotte Hornets 2023-24 schedule

LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /
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The Charlotte Hornets’ 2023-24 NBA regular season schedule has been out for just over three weeks now, which means basketball junkies like myself have been deep diving into every homestand, road trip, and nationally televised game (sorry, Hornets fans, those words won’t be seen too often this season).

For a team that’s finished below .500 in 6 of the last 7 years, a post-All-Star break surge or a winless West Coast road trip in December can be the difference between a playoff push and talking yourself into Noah Vonleh being a franchise cornerstone.

History tells us that playoff positioning in the NBA can change sporadically over a short period of time. Flashback to the 2020-21 Hornets campaign – Charlotte had a firm grip on the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race with barely a month left in the COVID-shortened season before dropping 15 of their final 21 games.

This collapse included three straight home losses to teams that finished no better than 5th in their respective conference and a five-game skid to end the regular season before limping into the inaugural NBA Play-In tournament.

This trip down memory lane serves as a harsh reminder that every game matters. Sure, it’s a cliché phrase uttered by every youth sports coach in America, but it couldn’t have been truer for a Hornets team that finished one win short of hosting a Play-In game in back-to-back years.

The 2023-24 Hornets will be looking to avoid that same fate while airing out the stench of disappointment radiating throughout the fanbase. Variables such as injuries and potential trades will undoubtedly shake things up during the year, but a few weeks in the schedule already stand out as benchmarks for the season.

Adversity is unavoidable throughout a rigorous 82-game NBA schedule, but there are a few key weeks where the Hornets must thrive if they want to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Here are three crucial stretches in the Charlotte Hornets’ schedule that have the potential to make or break their season.

#1  The Charlotte Hornets need to set the tone early (10/25-10/30)

Charlotte Hornets vs Atlanta Hawks
LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets & Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

The Hornets open the regular season with a three-game Eastern Conference homestand. The Atlanta Hawks (10/25), Detroit Pistons (10/27), and Brooklyn Nets (10/30) will all make the trip to the Spectrum Center with hopes of starting their respective campaigns off on the right foot.

All three of these teams have something in common – they’re projected to be average. Middle of the pack. Fighting for a spot in the NBA Play-In tournament. Games like these, especially on their home floor, are the games the Hornets need to win to exceed their own expectations and flirt with a playoff berth.

Speaking of home-court advantage, it was almost non-existent for Charlotte last year. They posted a 13-28 record at the Spectrum Center, good for second-worst in the league. Opposing teams didn’t seem too worried when they saw a road game in the Queen City on their schedule.

The Hornets begin this season with a clean slate and a chance to establish themselves as a challenging game on the schedule for any team. The franchise has only seen one 3-0 start (2021-22) in its relatively short history, but the path has been laid for this year’s squad to capitalize on this early homestand and set the tone for the rest of the season.