Charlotte Hornets (23-30) at Portland Trailblazers (29-25)
We came up short last night as the Cleveland Cavaliers finally showed some signs of life! Well, at least Lebron James did. The King played 48 minutes and did everything he could to carry the Cavs. Lebron went for a 37 point, 10 rebound, 15 assists, triple-double and hit what was the biggest shot of the game, when he nailed a deep three with the Cavs down three with under two minutes to go.
It was a dagger for the Cavs, and the Wolves couldn’t recover and fell short in overtime, 140-138. It was a fantastic game to watch, and you have to wonder if this is a sign that things are turning around in Cleveland? Or was this just the best basketball player in the world being the best basketball player in the world and saying he has had enough of all this losing?
We will monitor the situation closely, the betting against Lebron gravy train may very well be over after that performance last night. Tonight, I will take a look at two teams desperately looking to stay relevant when the Charlotte Hornets travel to Portland to play the Blazers.
The Charlotte Hornets will head to the Pacific Northwest Thursday night for a matchup with the Portland Trailblazers. The Hornets have been up and down all season long, and trade rumors are swirling all around this team with the trade deadline looming just days away.
The Blazers are in a slightly better position as they are clinging on to the seven seed in the Western Conference, but they are at risk of getting bitten by the trade bug as well. The Blazers are -4-point home favorites tonight. The game total over-under is set at 213 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM PST from the Moda Center.
Will Kemba Walker still be a Hornet next week? That is the question on the minds of Charlotte Hornets fans right now. The star point guard’s name has been rumored in several trade deals, and many expect him to be traded by the Wednesday trade deadline. The star player is claiming that it is out of his control and that he isn’t focused on it, but it has to be wearing hard on his mind. To his credit, Walker hasn’t seemed to let it affect his performance much as he is still playing at a very high level.
To be honest, here, I think trading Walker is the right thing to do. Yeah, the Hornets have a slim chance of sneaking into the eight seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, only to get swept by Boston or Toronto when they get there, but is that what is really best for their future? I would say no.
Dwight Howard maybe has one or two years left of production, and they just don’t have the core of young talent to win long term. They would be best shipping off Walker for draft picks and trying to load up in what should be a very good 2018 draft.
The Portland Trailblazers are in a similar, yet much better position than the Hornets right now. Neither team is going to win a playoff series this season, but at least Portland has Damien Lillard and C.J. McCollum to build around. Both star players are lobbying not to break up the team, and they have played much better in the last several weeks than they started the season, but it’s probably best that they slide out of playoff contention as well this year.
The Blazers don’t have a ton of valuable expiring assets outside of McCollum and Lillard, who they should absolutely keep. But if they get a situation where they have a chance to tank a little bit this season and build for the future they should take it.
Their recent three-game losing streak is a sign that this team, even though they are playing decent right now, isn’t ready to compete to move up the standings enough to possibly win a playoff series. In today’s modern NBA if you aren’t getting better you are getting worse, and it might be time to take a step back in Portland.
So, all trade talk and future talk aside, who wins tonight’s game? The Blazers had a brutal road trip to the East Coast that had them matched up against the two best teams in the East, the Toronto Raptors, and the Boston Celtics, and predictably they lost them both. In the last game of the trip, the had to play a fired-up Piston’s team with their newly acquired star in Blake Griffin, and looked exhausted and got blown out.
The Blazers have had a couple of days off to rest and are excited to spend the rest of the month playing exclusively on the West Coast. Those east to west road trips are absolutely brutal.
Speaking of long road trips, that’s where we find this Charlotte Hornets teams. The Hornets played back to back against the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets and managed to split, going 1-1 to start their long road trip. They now have to play tonight in Portland and tomorrow night in Utah before heading home.
That isn’t exactly a murderer’s row of teams, but that is a long time to be away from home, especially for a weak team like the Hornets. We saw what a long cross-country road trip did to Portland last week, and they are going to enjoy being on the other side of that scenario tonight.
While I think Walker will do his part, I expect this to be too much tonight for the Hornets. That mini three-game winning streak? It was against Indiana, Phoenix, and Atlanta. It was more a function of some favorable scheduling than it was a sign of life from the Hornets.
I expect the long road trip to start wearing on them and that should be evident tonight.
Give me the Portland Trailblazers in a not all that close, double-digit victory tonight at home.