March Forecast: Partly Cloudy with Isolated Showers

The last two months of the regular season are here- the time period that pretty much every analyst predicts us to struggle through. But will we really? After all, nobody called our top of the Southwest perch this late in the season. Let’s take a look at the upcoming month, game by game:

Before I start, let me note the Hornets base statistics so far this season.

Offensive Efficiency: 112.4 [Points/100 Possessions] (9th)

Defensive Efficiency: 106.3 [Points/100 Possessions] (7th)

Pace: 88.5 (25th Fastest)

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Offense: 108.7 (13th)/Defense: 109.9 (22nd)

The Wizards play a similar brand of basketball as us, just much worse offensively, and even worse defensively, which is what made last Monday’s loss a stunner. Butler will definitely be out for this contest, Arenas has no timetable for return, and I guarantee we will find a way to put a leash on DeShawn Stevenson. Hornets romp.

Verdict: WIN (1-0)

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Offense: 104.9 (23rd)/Defense: 112.8 (29th)

Ranking second to last in the league in defense, and without too much offense to speak of, the New York Knicks are again one of the league’s worst. Any team with deep playoff run aspirations has no business losing to Isiah’s squad.

Verdict: WIN (2-0)

Offense: 105.2 (22nd)/Defense: 108.0 (14th)

The Hornets’ joke of an Eastern conference string of games continues at home vs. Atlanta. While the Hawks are a significantly better defensive team than either the Knicks or the Wizards, they again don’t bring too much to the table offensively. While Al Horford has continued an impressive rookie campaign, taking Joe Johnson and Josh Smith out of their offensive rhythms should be enough to dispatch the ATL.

Verdict: WIN (3-0)

Offense: 104.6 (24th)/Defense: 109.5 (21st)

While I think that terrible offensive efficiency is likely to get better with the replacement of Kidd with Devin Harris, the defensive efficiency should hover around what it is. Fact is, New Jersey was a terrible offensive team with Jason Kidd, and Devin Harris can only do so much to turn that around. New O did have a tough game that went down to the wire at NJ last time, so Paul and crew should expect to be ready.

Verdict: WIN (4-0)

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Offense: 107.5 (16th)/Defense: 102.6 (2nd)

Boy does that Yao injury hurt. Houston wasn’t anything spectacular offensively, at right around league average, but their D was just phenomenal. Any time you lose a guy like Yao, your interior defense is bound to suffer. All that being said, Houston has one of the weakest remaining schedules, and I still say they’ll make the playoffs. But don’t expect them to beat a Hornets team on the lookout for revenge.

Verdict: WIN (5-0)

Offense: 110.2 (11th)/Defense: 103.9 (3rd)

This where the schedule starts to get tough. The Spurs have been red hot lately, and I only expect that to carry over into next week as Tony Parker gets more acclimated to the offense. Even if Ginobli does (and probably will) cool off over the next week, this will be a very tough game. Odd as it is to call playing the defending champs a trap game, this game might very well become that with a huge Lakers tilt on the near horizon.

Verdict: LOSS (5-1)

Offense: 113.6 (2nd)/Defense: 106.6 (6th)

The Lakers will be the first top-10 offensive team we play in March; that notwithstanding, they’re also better than us defensively. The next two weeks will obviously show us more of LA’s vulnerabilities, but the way I see it right now, they’re the best team out West.

Verdict: LOSS (5-2)

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Offense: 112.7 (7th)/Defense: 104.4 (4th)

This one’s really tough to call. With the way we’ve played this season, I really expected us to pull out a split versus Detroit. Then I saw their vicious throttling of a good Phoenix squad. But perhaps I’m just overrating the Suns’ new-look team. Okay, how’s this for a bold pick? We add Chris Anderson just in time for the game, pound Detroit on the glass and inside, and pull off the win.

Verdict: WIN (6-2)

Offense: 103.5 (26th)/Defense: 106.8 (8th)

Chicago’s suffered through a nightmare of a season, but they’ve still managed to be a top 10 defensive squad, obviously a great sign for their future. But for right now, they’ve got nobody who can stop Chris Paul, and I highly doubt the new Bulls including Larry Hughes will contribute too many positive assistance. Following that tough SA, LA, DET stretch, this CHI game will be the perfect antidote.

Verdict: WIN (7-2)

Offense: 107.5 (16th)/Defense: 102.6 (2nd)

We meet Houston for the second time in 5 games, this time at home; at this stage, I’m guessing they’ll be a lot more used to playing with a Yao-less lineup. What’s different between March 8th and March 19th? Nothing- a loaded Hornets lineup should dispatch the de-Chinese’d Spaceships.

Verdict: WIN (8-2)

Offense: 111.8 (11th)/Defense: 100.0 (1st)

Just when March seems to be all ripe and peachy, we’ll run in to the buzzsaw that is the Boston Celtics twice in one week. The Big Three were clearly hailed as such for their offensive abilities, but Boston has been far and away the best defensive team in the league. Yeah, we’re at home, but I’ll be pleasantly surprised if we pulled it off.

Verdict: LOSS (8-3)

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Offense: 106.5 (18th)/Defense: 108.7 (18th)

Initially quite surprisingly good team, Indiana’s dropped down to slightly below average since. They do play a very fast brand of basketball (fastest in the East, 3rd in the L), but we’ll have Sunday and Monday off before hitting the Fieldhouse. Back-to-back losses for the second time this month, against the Pacers no less? Fat chance.

Verdict: WIN (9-3)

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Offense: 107.2 (17th)/Defense: 108.1 (15th)

My feeling is this could be a very dangerous team come March 26th. Ranked just 17th offensively, and 15th defensively as we speak- or rather, as I speak- there’s nowhere to go but up for James’ Cavs. That said, who’s going to guard CP and David West? Daniel Gibson and Joe Smith? No and no.

Verdict: WIN (10-3)

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Offense: 111.8 (11th)/Defense: 100.0 (1st)

This Boston game marks the third contest of a 6 game East swing that stretches into April, and includes a trip to the Floridas. I expect the Celts to crack the top 10 offenses by this point in March, and continue their excellent defense, and thereby hand us a 2nd loss in a week.

Verdict: LOSS (10-4)

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Offense: 113.1 (4th)/Defense: 107.7 (11th)

Toronto sent us into 2008 with a bitter taste in our mouths; if we played them February 29th instead of March 30th, there would’ve been a good chance of them sending us into yet another new month with a loss. But there’s no way they can continue to be as hot as they are now until the end of March. The Hornets should set themselves up for a solid April by taking care of business north of the border.

Verdict: WIN (11-4)

And there you have it, my picks for all 15 games this month. Granted, things like injuries happen, teams get really hot and really cold. But if we can finish this month with an 11-4 record, with losses coming at home against San Antonio, the Lakers, the Celtics and on the road at the Celtics, we’d be sitting at a great 50-22 with 10 games left. To sum up March:

Strength of Schedule: 0.571

Games against the West: 4

Games against the East: 11

Games at Home: 7

Games on the Road: 8

Game on 0 days rest: 4

Games on 1 day rest: 8

Games on 2 days rest: 2

Games on 3 days rest: 1

Given all that, I’d be happy with anything above 9-6, but 11-4 is certainly doable. The point of all this? We’re not nearly as doomed to fail as the World Wide Leader might have you think.

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2 Responses

  1. […] I’d like to take a moment to point out brag about my success in predicting our March schedule. As I said we’d be, we’re 10-4, and will be 11-4 if we can take care of business against […]

  2. 4_2forpost.txt;10;15

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