As the Charlotte Hornets hit the road for their first extended road trip this season, they will surely be tested and we will learn a lot about this team.
The Charlotte Hornets‘ upcoming five-game road trip will be an early season test for the team. After an up and down start to the 2016-17 season, they are heading into the road trip riding high on a three-game win streak. This road trip won’t be an easy task but we should tell us a lot about this Hornets’ team.
While Charlotte has started the season with a 6-3 record away from home, they have yet to have more than two successive road game so far this year. The Hornets will be looking to use their momentum from winning three straight, six of their last eight, and a good away record on this road trip. While they have had a good start to the season, most of their games have been at home and against lesser opponents. This is arguably the team’s first real extended test of the year.
While this is a tough stretch of games, it should be easier knowing that the trip is all in the East and they will not be changing time zones. Most road trips include long distance travels to the west coast of in different time zones which could throw the players off and make the trips even more difficult. The ability to stay in the Eastern Timezone should help but this won’t be easy and even head coach, Steve Clifford, said “2-3 [record] wouldn’t surprise him.” during the road trip.
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During the five-game road trip, the Hornets will take on four playoff teams from last season. Including the defending NBA Champions in the Cleveland Cavaliers. Charlotte hasn’t had a lot of success against LeBron James-led teams but they did snap a 23-game losing streak to him last season.
While that tough matchup opens up their road trip, it will not get any easier after that. They will then take on Paul George and the Indiana Pacers, John Wall and the Washington Wizards, the Boston Celtics, and their division rivals in the Atlanta Hawks. Each of these games will provide a different task with each being strenuous.
How the Charlotte Hornets fare against these opponents should give the team a benchmark on where they are at in terms of contending in the Eastern Conference. With wins or even good outings against these high-level teams, the Hornets can prove that they belong in the upper echelon of the East. Charlotte still has plenty of doubters, rightfully so, but they can help put them to rest with victories over big time opposition.
As I said before, the Hornets have already had their fair share of ups and downs in the first quarter of the season. They started off hot going 8-3 but then stumbled as they lost four straight, with some to questionable opponents. After ending that four-game skid, they are now enjoying nice stretch with wins in six of their last eight.
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This team has been anything but stable to start the 2016 campaign but this road trip could help sort that out. They don’t necessarily need to win every game to have a sense of consistency but they do need to play well and to their strengths. The main problem with the Hornets to start the year is their unstable play with poor shooting performances, turning the ball over at a high rate, and struggling to defend.
These are all things that Steve Clifford prioritizes and things that the team has done well in the past to succeed. The reason Charlotte was so successful in their 48-win season last year was their consistent play. If they can find a sense of stability during the road trip, it will help them out, in the long run, going forward. If not, the unsteady showing could continue.
Of course, Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, and company will need to have their A-games or risk losing some key games to potential postseason opponents.
While expectations may be relatively low for the grueling road trip, I think that this team places themselves in high regards and they will want to come out of it with a winning record. They will endure plenty of adversity during this stretch of games but that will only show us exactly who this team is and if they can step up when in a tough position. The Charlotte Hornets will be tested but with those tests, everyone will learn more about them and they will tell us exactly what kind of team they are.