Hornets Face their own March Madness

Published: January 8, 2008

Time to break in on our efforts to get Fluffy a nickname, and talk briefly about something else.

During one of his chats on ESPN.com, Marc Stein defended the Hornets being left off a contender list produced by their editor Andrew Ayres by stating that the Hornets had a recent history of fading.  My initial inclination was to bombard his chat with questions like 'Hey Marc Stein, are you the dumbest bastard at ESPN, or is that still Andrew?'

Of course, I knew he'd never post so magnificent a question, so instead I came over here to Hornets247  where only Ron Hitley can stop me from posting.  And I have pictures of Ron, so now the question is public.

Satisfied, I then went and looked at our schedule so I could laugh at the idea of a fade.  Sadly,  I probably owe Marc a qualified apology(I like Marc anyways.  He's got us 3rd in his Power Rankings!).  Judging by our schedule, we once again may fade a little in March, and it may have an impact on our playoff prospects.  Freaking NBA always screws us in March.

Now don't get me wrong, At 23-11, it would take a hell of a fade for us to fall out of the playoffs entirely.  Only Chris Paul being tripped by a frustrated opponent, making him crack his skull open on Tyson's leg while rupturing the big man's achilles tendon would make us choke that badly. (Don't worry, I'll sacrifice to the basketball gods later to avert this fate.)  But now that we are gunning for the playoffs, we have other considerations.  Namely, seeding. 

We may be a great road team, but we're a young club and conceding any advantage would be foolish.  Can we maintain a top 4 seed and get home-court advantage in the first round?  Last season a team needed 52 wins to be a top 4 seed in the West, and the league's current records project similarly to last year, so let's go through the schedule and see if we can pull that out:

Through the rest of January we've got mostly easy games, with only 2 roadies the rest of the way.  Other than a tough game at San Antonio followed by Denver and Golden State to close out the month, we'll probably be able to pad the record some.  Let's mark us down conservatively as 7-4.  That brings us to a tidy 30-15.

February has some bumps, but is still not so bad.  The way our team is playing, I think we can easily handle a month with three patsies(Sacramento, Memphis, Milwaukee), five mid-tier teams(Utah twice, Washington, Chicago and Houston), and four good teams(Phoenix twice, Dallas, and San Antonio).  That's a nice even spread, and going 8-4 is within pretty easy reach.  38-19.

(Yes – I called Utah a mid-tier team.  They are 18-17 and currently a 9th seed.  That's middlin' to fair at best.  Deron Williams can't carry Paul's jock, thanks.)

For the moment, I'll skip March, and jump ahead to April, which is similar to February.  The month offers three good teams, four mid-tier teams, and three patsies.  Nice.  Going 7-3 would bring us to 45-22.

Now let's go back to March.  With 45 wins and fifteen games, it shouldn't be too hard to grab the last seven wins we need.  Or so you'd think.  Of fifteen games(in only 31 nights), eleven are against current playoff teams, and only one team is a patsy.(Knicks)   There are five games against top-tier competition, including two games against the insane Celtics, one against Detroit, and one against the Spurs.  Mixed in are nine games against mid-tier competition, six on the road and two on the second nights of back to backs.  That's rough.  I'm hoping for 9-6, but would it be that unbelievable to go 6-9 and be out of the top 4?  The Spurs just went 4-6.  6-9 isn't that far. March will be a true test of our teams character.

Here's hoping we find a bench scorer or two by then.

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