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Game On: Warriors @ Hornets
The Hornets come into this game with a fully healthy squad, having won six of their last seven while Golden State will likely be without starting point guard Stephen Curry (edit: Curry has been upgraded to probable) and have lost five of their last six. Add the fact that this will be Golden State’s third game in four nights and is the second of a road back-to-back and the Hornets appear to be in great position to even up the series with the Warriors.
In their last meeting, the Hornets rallied to make it interesting in the second half, but Golden State was pretty much in control throughout. David Lee was able to get practically anything he wanted (update #2: David Lee will NOT play tonight) and ex-Hornets Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack combined for 32 off the bench in their 103-96 victory. Here’s how the Hornets can ensure things end differently tonight.
Keys to Victory
1. Attack the Paint
Golden State is a team devoid of shot blockers, as they average less than four per game as a team. Combine that with the fact that they are in the bottom ten in the league in free throw attempts allowed, and the formula is simple: attack the basket for a high percentage shot that should result in a made bucket or being sent to the line. This is a game where Eric Gordon can’t do Golden State any favors by settling for perimeter shots. He and Vasquez should be in attack mode and Davis, Smith, Lopez, and Anderson need to swarm the glass for the occassional misses. Over this recent stretch where the Warriors have been playing poorly, this has doomed them more than any other single factor, as they are giving up nerly 50 points per game in the paint and another 23 at the free throw line.
2. Use Eric Gordon to Pressure Jarrett Jack
Jarret Jack is having a fantastic year off the bench, but his turnover percentage is still relatively high when you consider that he plays primarily against second unit guys. In fact, the team as a whole is extremely turnover prone, ranking 27th in the league in that category, but in this game the main focus should be Jack, who is second on the team in turnovers per 36 minutes with nearly three. Vasquez has the length to disrupt shooting guard Klay Thompson, which gives Gordon the opportunity to hound Jack and create havoc in the pick and roll, a staple of Golden State’s offense. And even if Curry does play, the same goes for him as he is the team leader in turnovers and has been prone to racking them up in bunches.
3. Win the Battle of the Benches
With Jarrett Jack being forced to move into the starting lineup (possibly), the Hornets now have a clear advantage in the reserve department. The last time these two met, Ryan Anderson went off for 28 points but didn’t get any support from his fellow benchmates while Jack and Landry punished the second unit. Ryno should be able to match or exceed the production from Landry, leaving Roger Mason, Austin Rivers, Xavier Henry, and Jason Smith to match-up with the likes of Draymond Green and Charles Jenkins. If the Hornets win this battle, they likely win the game.