Team Records: Charlotte (3-4) at Portland (4-3)
Game Info: 7 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -7.5
Refs: Danny Crawford, David Guthrie, Haywoode Workman
The Skinny: Fresh off a fairly easy off win over the Nuggets, the Blazers enter the second half of their first four games in five nights stretch of the season as they welcome the Charlotte Hornets to town. Charlotte became the Lakers’s first victim of the year in their last game Sunday night. Portland will be without Nicolas Batum, who is sitting out with a right knee contusion he picked in the closing minutes of Sunday’s win.
Last Season: The two teams split the season series 1-1. Portland has won six straight home games over Charlotte and eight of the last ten overall between the two teams.
Projected Hornets Lineup:
PF-Marvin Williams (North Carolina-10th Season)- 8.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.4 APG.
SF-Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky-3rd Season)-9.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.4 APG.
C-Al Jefferson (Prentiss (HS)-11th Season)-22.7 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.7 APG
SG-Lance Stephenson (Cincinnati-5th Season)-8 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 5.3 APG.
PG-Kemba Walker (Connecticut-4th Season)-15.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 4.9 APG.
Player to Watch-Kemba Walker (pictured at right)-Kemba Walker likes making big shots. He liked making them in college at UConn and he likes making them in the NBA, including one already this season. Beyond that, however, there is much to like about Walker, provided you don’t look much beyond scoring. Walker is a shot-first point guard who is capable of putting up big numbers any night. However, Walker is equally capable of shooting his team out of games, shooting only 40.2% on the year. Walker’s already tepid assist rate is down this year and his turnovers are up, and he’s not a good rebounder. Yet, on a team that lacks offense like Charlotte, you’ll take what you can get and hope that Walker has a big night, because if he doesn’t Charlotte often doesn’t have much of a chance.
Did You Know?: The Hornets/Bobcats are the only current NBA team to have never won a playoff game. They were swept in their only two playoff appearances.
Song of the Day: “Rockin’ the Suburbs” by Ben Folds. One of my favorite songs by one of North Carolina’s best known artists. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SF Nicolas Batum (Knee)
These Hornets do have some sting, at least on defense. The Hornets are a good defensive club, although the stats so far this year don’t bear that out largely due to a few surprisingly high scoring losses. Still, this is a team that managed to lose a game while allowing all of 71 points (they scored 69), so they can play defense. Where they really struggle is on offense. Charlotte has only topped 100 points twice this year, both times in overtime. They are currently tied for 24th in offensive efficiency, and although its too early and the sample size too small to draw much conclusions, this is a team that was also 24th last year. The Hornets win, when they do, by slowing games down and winning ugly. They are also winless on the road so far this year, with all three losses coming to likely non-playoff teams. Bottom line, Charlotte is neither good, nor bad, but just very meh.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They score 100 points. The Hornets are a bad offensive team and so if Portland can top the century mark, they should win.
Charlotte wins if: They stop Portland’s three point shooting. If Charlotte wants to stay close in this one, they have to make Portland play at their pace and the first step to doing that is to not allow Portland to have one of their good nights from deep. If they can limit Portland form 3, they might have a chance at winning this one.