Sports

Hornets prepared as play-in event opener vs. Atlanta looms


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Charlotte Hornets bench celebrates towards the Orlando Magic on the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday, April 7, 2022.

Knikouyeh@charlotteobserver.com

Imagine packing for a visit that has the potential to both be an in a single day journey, a three-day tour or one which lasts almost per week.

All of the locations are in fully totally different climates, too.

In the Charlotte Hornets’ case, that type of uncertainty is an efficient factor. It means they’re nonetheless alive and have a possibility to erase any sting leftover from final 12 months’s uninspiring postseason effort in Indiana. As the tenth seed within the Eastern Conference, they need to win two video games on the highway to advance to the eight-team NBA playoff area.

Their journey begins towards No. 9 Atlanta at State Farm Arena on Wednesday night time and has the potential to increase to both Cleveland or Brooklyn earlier than probably pushing on to Miami. Those additional situations aren’t on the forefront of the Hornets’ minds, although. Not with what they’re dealing with as soon as they arrive in Georgia.

“Our guys are excited,” coach James Borrego mentioned Monday. “They’re ready to go. I’m thrilled for our group, to be in this position — postseason play — go win a basketball game and progress from there. So we are not thinking about anything other than Atlanta right now. What happens after that we’ll figure it out on Wednesday. But our group is excited.”

This remains to be all new for a bulk of the Hornets’ younger core. Sure, most have been current a season in the past after they dipped into an enormous gap early and by no means acquired it in gear towards the Pacers. But that’s the gist of their expertise.

Bringing in additional veterans turned a precedence and that’s why the likes of Montrezl Harrell, Mason Plumlee and Isaiah Thomas have been added. The expectation is to depend on their voices, permitting them to function an extension of the teaching workers and an additional pair of eyes on the bench to make sure the core is conscious of what’s happening on the courtroom.

There’s a higher degree of depth on every possession within the postseason and the Hornets discovered that out the arduous manner in Indiana virtually a 12 months in the past.

“We know we don’t have any room for error,” Miles Bridges mentioned, “because last year we went into the game and Doug McDermott came out and hit five straight threes on us and it was over from there. So we know we’ve got to come into the game locked in, knowing what we’ve got to do, not letting anybody heat up. Sticking to our defensive principles, because when we play defense that’s when we are at our best.”

They received’t have a shot at beating the Hawks in the event that they don’t. That was an enormous issue of their final assembly with Atlanta final month, a victory that squared the four-game season sequence at 2-2.

The Hornets held Trae Young to a season-low 9 factors and the Hawks’ star level guard made simply 33 % of his makes an attempt that night time. Limiting Young’s manufacturing is paramount and the Hornets are going to throw a number of defensive seems at him. Few secrets and techniques can escape both facet, although.

That’s how it’s if you’re divisional foes.

“We know what they like to do, they know what we like to do,” Bridges mentioned. “It’s going to come down to who executes better and who’s tougher. So it’s always fun when we play against them.”

Except the Hornets have a tad bit extra on the road this time. Their jam-packed suitcases ought to point out as such.

“It feels like a postseason game,” Borrego mentioned. “It should feel that way. There’s more excitement, just something is different in the air right now. But that’s OK. My job is to make sure we stay focused on what we need to stay focused on. Our guys should play with an excitement. They should feel good about themselves right now.

“I want them to use that fuel as confidence and belief that as we go into Wednesday night, I want this group as loose as possible. Play loose and free.”

Roderick Boone joined the Observer in September 2021 to cowl the Charlotte Hornets and NBA. In his greater than 20 years of writing concerning the world of sports activities, he’s chronicled every thing from highschool rodeo to a significant league baseball no-hitter to the Super Bowl to the Finals. The Long Island native has deep North Carolina roots and enjoys watching “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” endlessly.
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