With the first week of the season in the books, the Charlotte Hornets turn to their next set of games. Last week, the Hornets dropped their first game to the Pistons in Detroit, but bounced back in their home opener, defeating the Atlanta Hawks. Dwight Howard impressed in his first two games, averaging 15 points and 15 rebounds from the center position. Kemba Walker leads the team in scoring with 25 points per game. But the team faces a series of early challenges this week in the form of three teams with superstar talents.
The Hornets have three games on their schedule in the final full week of October. They start with a Monday night road clash with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. After an off day Tuesday, they head back to the Spectrum Center to host the Denver Nuggets. Finally, the Hornets will play hosts once again, this time to James Harden and the Houston Rockets.
CAN’T MISS GAME
In terms of backcourt matchups, there are fewer better than the one featured in Friday night’s game against the Rockets. James Harden is one of the league’s premier guards, while Kemba Walker looks like he will be a perennial All-Star for years to come. The two guards will go back and forth in scoring, as Walker will be getting some more open looks thanks to Harden’s defending, which appears suspect at times.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Kemba Walker earns the feature for this week’s player to watch. After brilliant outings in the first week of the season, Walker will look to continue his hot streak against tougher opposition. Since the opponents Charlotte is facing are much better than the ones last week, it will be up to Walker to run the offense through him and center Dwight Howard. Walker will need to also get wings Malik Monk and Jeremy Lamb involved more if the team is to have any chance this week.
This week will not be pretty for the Hornets. Antetokounmpo looks like the way-too-early front runner for the league Most Valuable Player award, averaging 38 points and just under 10 rebounds per game last week. While perimeter defensive specialist Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has recently returned to practice after missing the first two games of the season due to personal issues, even him at his best can barely contain the 7-foot Antetokounmpo, who has become the Bucks’ primary ballhandler. Wednesday night is the best opportunity for the Hornets to steal a win at home against the Nuggets, but this game all comes down to the battle in the low block. Nikola Jokic has become everything that Dwight Howard was supposed to be and then some, adding superior court vision and passing and a solid jumpshot to one of the best post presences in the NBA. Dwight will have to be vintage, Defensive Player of the Year Dwight if the Hornets are to have a chance, but ultimately, I’m predicting another loss. The final game against the Rockets will also be a loss. The Houston offense is simply too fast-paced for the Hornets defense to keep up with, and the Rockets can get scoring from a variety of players, including sixth man Eric Gordon, who has stepped into a starting role following Chris Paul’s injury. Unfortunately, this means the Hornets will go 0-3 this week, falling to 1-4 on the season.
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