Hornets 2018-19 Schedule: Top Games, Championship Odds and Record Predictions

Charlotte Hornets' Kemba Walker (15) reacts after making a 3-point basket against the New York Knicks during overtime of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, March 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Chuck Burton/Associated Press

The Charlotte Hornets have been nothing if not consistent the past couple seasons, but they are looking to change that as they enter a new era in 2018-19. 

Charlotte has finished 36-46 in each of the last two campaigns, missing the postseason both times, and fired head coach Steve Clifford as a result. It hired former San Antonio Spurs assistant James Borrego to take his place with the hope he can replicate some of the success Gregg Popovich has enjoyed in the Western Conference.

Time is pressing, though, because two-time All-Star Kemba Walker is set for unrestricted free agency following the season. The window could be closing if the Hornets are going to do anything during the guard’s tenure with the team.

Charlotte now knows the schedule it must navigate if it is going to reach the playoffs in Borrego’s first season as the head coach.

             

2018-19 Details

Season Opener: Oct. 17 vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Championship Odds: 300-1 (via Odds Shark)

Full Schedule: NBA.com

          

Top Matchups

San Antonio Spurs: Jan. 14 (away), March 26 (home)

Charlotte isn’t featured in many nationally televised games a la the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers, but the contest against the Spurs stands out for even casual fans.

This matchup pits Borrego against former boss Popovich and gives the Hornets the opportunity to measure themselves against an organization that has largely served as the gold standard in the league the last 20 years.

If Charlotte is going to compete for a playoff spot, these are the types of contests it needs to win because there is still a larger talent gap against teams such as the Warriors and Houston Rockets.

This game also gives fans the opportunity to watch something that figures to be jarring at first glance—Tony Parker playing against the Spurs.

The point guard who carried the team for years alongside the likes of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard will lace it up for the Hornets this season, the first time he has played for an NBA squad outside of San Antonio.

His presence on Charlotte’s roster adds an additional layer of intrigue to this interconference battle.

            

Washington Wizards: Dec. 29 (away), Feb. 22 (home), March 8 (home), March 15 (away)

The natural place for the Hornets to turn their attention in the battle for the playoffs is the No. 8 seed from a season ago. After all, they will have to crack the top eight in the East, and the team that just slipped into the last postseason is an ideal place to start.

Fans will be treated to a point guard battle between Walker and John Wall in this one, while Bradley Beal and Nicolas Batum square off as well.

What’s more, this will be the first time the Hornets face Dwight Howard after the big man signed with Washington this offseason. 

However, this game makes the list because Charlotte will need some head-to-head victories over other fringe playoff contenders in the East to make the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.

If it takes care of business against squads such as the Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons, the postseason isn’t an unrealistic goal.

           

Prediction

Walker needs help this season if the Hornets are going to reach the playoffs seeing how Howard is no longer around as the only one of his teammates in 2017-18 to average more than 12.9 points a night.

Keeping Batum healthy is critical after the swingman played just 64 games last season, but contributions from the high-ceiling youngsters will make or break the campaign. Malik Monk averaged just 6.7 points per game as a rookie after the Hornets selected him with the No. 11 pick in the 2017 draft, but look for improvement with a season under his belt.

What’s more, Miles Bridges is a potential future cornerstone as the No. 12 pick of the 2018 draft.

A best-case scenario for the Hornets would see Walker thrive again and make his third All-Star Game, while the young pieces and veterans such as Parker and Batum mesh well as the supporting cast. If that’s the case, Charlotte could be a fringe playoff contender against a watered-down Eastern Conference schedule.

Look for exactly that to happen, as Walker should be motivated playing for a new contract, and the surrounding talent is in place to improve following Howard’s departure.

This isn’t a contender for a deep postseason run, but the Hornets will be a factor come April.

Record Prediction: 41-41

NBA News

via Bleacher Report – NBA https://ift.tt/2gMI6gF

August 10, 2018 at 01:19PM

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