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The Hornets’ Road to the Playoffs

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Published: March 18, 2011

With 27 days left in the regular season, the Hornets face a challenging, but sparse schedule. They have played a league high 70 games already, so they have a league low 12 left. Theoretically, that should make the always difficult task of keeping starters rested a little bit easer for rookie coach Monty Williams.

Unfortunately things are a lot easier in theory than in reality. Even though the Hornets only play a handful of games, each and every one of those games will have playoff implications for both squads. Of their remaining games, every team has a realistic chance of making the postseason. Nobody will be laying down hoping to get more ping pong balls in the lottery. Paul and company will get some rest in between games, but in each game they will need to contribute big minutes if the Hornets are going to come away with victories.

Let’s take a look at the remaining schedule-

Easy-Breezy, All Things Considered

Indiana Pacers, April 3rd (home)- By far the least talented team the Hornets play in the closing stretch, the Pacers and former Hornets Darren Collison will still put up a fight. They currently sit only half a game ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats, and only two and a half above Milwaukee.

Phoenix Suns, March 25th (away), April 8th (home)- The Suns sit two and a half games back of the eight and final playoff spot out West, and with Steve Nash back in action, there’s no reason to think that the Suns can’t make it if they can knock down their three pointers. If the Hornets can limit the Suns open three point attempts, they should be able to win both of these games.

Houston Rockets, March 28th (home)- Although they are seeded tenth currently, the Rockets are only two games back of the eight place Grizzlies. They have won nine of twelve since falling five games under .500 on February 16th.

Memphis Grizzlies, April 1st (home)- Hardly a gimme, this one is still easier than most. The Hornets have the day off before, and with the game taking place on a Friday at home, there should be a loud, energetic crowd on hand. Should the Hornets struggle on their late March road trip, this one will be an absolute must win.

This Is What You Call The Middle?

Portland Trailblazers, March 30th (home)- The Hornets have two games off beforehand, and the game is at home, but that won’t make it any easier. Since acquiring Gerald Wallace from the Bobcats, the Trailblazers have been on a roll, winning 7 of 11 games and moving all the way up to 6th in the standings. This game is going to be a big one. The game is on a Wednesday, so it will really be up to the fans to come out and support the team. If the house is full, this one is much easier.

Utah Jazz, March 24th (away), April 11th (home)- I’m not quite sure what to make of Utah since the trade that sent D-Will packing. They’ve lost 7 of 12 since the deal, but still site only a single game back of Memphis. Before the away game, the Hornets have four full days off. Chris Paul should be 100% refreshed. The home game follows up Memphis on the road the day before, and if that game is tough, the Hornets might be a step slow back at home. Because of that, I think that the two games are equally winnable.

Memphis Grizzlies, April 10th (away)- As I said, Memphis is tough. At home they are 23-10, and they have won 7 of their last 9. Th bright side? One of those two losses was to New Orleans, so it’s not like a win in Memphis would be anything new to the Hornets.

Win These, Get Respect

Boston Celtics, March 19th (home)- This Saturday is going to be LOUD, and even though there will be more than a handful of Celtic fans in the house, it’s the Hornets fans who will be making the real noise. Rondo-Paul is always fun, since they clearly don’t like each other, but this one will likely be decided in the front court. This guy named Shaq will be there, too. Maybe you have heard of him.

Los Angeles Lakers, March 27th (away)- My only fear in the entire basketball world is the Lakers. I don’t think the Hornets can take them in the playoffs, and I don’t think they will take them on the road. Fortunately the Bees get a night off before, and have two full days off after, so they should at least be well rested and able to hold nothing back. They are going to need every single bit of energy to get a win in the other LA.

Dallas Mavericks, April 13th (away)- In a game that could very well be repeated over and over in the postseason, the Hornets and Mavs square off in the season finale. The previous three games have been excellent, providing fans on both sides with plenty of excitement. As CP3pdx noted, there’s a chance that the Hornets could control their own destiny. It may wind up being a good decision to rest the starters and lose this game, or it may turn out to be a must win to avoid seeing LA in round one. Either way, there will almost certainly be something riding on it.

And that does it for the regular season. Amazing how it just flew by, huh? I feel like it was just yesterday that the Hornets were 11-1 and number one in the power rankings. Those were the days, eh?

Just kidding! The best is still yet to come. This Hornets team is primed to enter the playoffs both mentally and physically prepared. Their remaining schedule will be a perfect primer for the playoffs as they play so many teams in what are must-win’s for both sides, but still light enough where they will hopefully be at 100 percent physically.

Oh, and if you don’t remember, home playoff games are pretty fun.

Just for fun, I’ll predict that the Hornet win eight of these games and enter the postseason as the five seed.

What do you think?

8 comments
504ever
504ever

Going 6-6 (finishing 10 games over .500) and beating the Blazers probably gets the Hornets the 6th seed and maybe a rest game. Doing more probably means more rest games for the starters. Now let's make it happen.

Ron
Ron

"Memphis Grizzlies, March 10th" Eh? Did you invent time travel, or should that be April?

Joe Gerrity
Joe Gerrity

I invented time travel. Sorry about that. Still shaking off the rust from the Gras.

NOEngineer
NOEngineer

I hope for 6 wins with 2 complete rest games each for CP3 and DW (a la Tim Duncan or Shaq), and the 8th seed. I don't want the 5th - 7th seed because any of those might get us the Lakers, Thugs, or Sonics in Round One depending how well Dallas plays down the stretch. I'd be fine with Dallas, but I'd rather go for the sure thing in San Antonio and hope for Dallas in Round 2. Unfortunately, my gut tells me 4-5 wins, a total of 150 minutes off combined for CP3 and DW, and probably still the 8th seed but more tired and sore. I think we beat the Pacers, split with Phoenix and Utah, and get 1 or 2 more of the other games. I'm okay with that as long as we keep a game or two out of ninth place so I can sleep at night...

42
42

Sonics. Nice.

Hornet Seantonio
Hornet Seantonio

Dont be so scared of the Lakers, they arent that intimidating. This is a good year for us to do some damage as teh only team dominating right now is the spurs. The Hornets showed we could tango with the Lakers with our scrubs by the fight we put up our last home battle against them. (could we tango 7 games probably not, but as much as i love king kobes maybe this ankle thing will really bother him and linger throughout the regular season and we could knockem out early) I'm scared of the thunder in the west more than anyone

cro_CP3
cro_CP3

Nice read, nice article, great summary, I predict 7 or 8 wins tooo, 9 at most, GO NOLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!

Edbballin504
Edbballin504

Good summary of the upcoming schedule Joe. I hope the Hornets do well in this final stretch. I will be in the Hive to do my part and cheer them on in Section 118. For the playoffs, I'll take any seed that avoids LAL in round 1. Go Bees!