After a six month hiatus, the Charlotte Hornets are finally suiting up and playing an NBA game. They will face Kemba Walker and the Celtics tonight at 6pm EST. This is the first of their five preseason games before their season opener on October 23rd against the Chicago Bulls. The Hornets are at the beginning of a new era, led by Terry Rozier and their young talent.
Tonight’s starting lineup will include Rozier, Nicolas Batum, Dwayne Bacon, and Miles Bridges. James Borrego said at training camp this week that he is not trying to tire anyone out, and is looking to play different lineups and check out and test different rotations. This is a new team with players in new roles, so the preseason will consist of plenty of trial and error, evaluating talent and players in specific roles and situations. Borrego said that he has a “certain number of minutes I want to play them at, but as the game goes on, you use judgement and feel… This is about getting comfortable with our system, our teammates and getting a good workout there.”
James Borrego also said in Chapel Hill this week that he’d “like to see defensive focus. That’s the number one thing.” The Hornets second year coach has preached defense and its priority in the new culture he is establishing in Charlotte. That consists of a high pace and tempo on offense, putting pressure on the oposing defense, and pushing the ball. Look for the Hornets attacking in transation, going straight into the teeth of the defense.
This will be Terry Rozier’s first live game action with his new teammates, so chemsitry won’t be at full-force just yet, but Rozier has had nothing but positive things to say about how he has gelled with his new team this week. Borrego doesn’t want Terry to come in and save the day, but he wants him to find his role in the offense and set up his team for success and be a menace on the defensive end.
Tonight will be the first time we see Hornets’ 12th overall pick from this June’s draft, P.J. Washington, play live action as he missed Las Vegas Summer League recovering from a foot injury. P.J. said his top priority has been improving his shooting and range, and at training camp, he was shooting and converting on NBA threes effortlessly and at a high rate. Borrego said he wants P.J. to play valuable minutes this season for the Hornets in a variety of roles including playing the small ball five potentially.
As for injuries for the Celtics game tonight, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is out with an illness, Malik Monk is out with right toe soreness, Joe Chealey is out with a right ankle sprain, and Devonte’ Graham is probable with an illness.