April Forecast: Clear Skies

50 wins and it isn’t even April yet. There isn’t an expectation we haven’t defied, not a critic we haven’t proved wrong, and not a franchise winning record we’re not on pace to break. But this is a team that’s not going to be satisfied with a poor April, not to mention this isn’t a Western Conference that’ll go easy on teams with poor Aprils. March went as well as I anticipated (11-4 with losses to Washington (2x), Detroit, and Boston and huge wins over LA, San Antonio, Houston, and Boston).

We were first place at the All-Star break, we’re first place right now, but what will it take to finish first place come the playoffs? You’re lucky I’m in the predicting business…

Before I start, let me note the Hornets base statistics thus far:

Offensive Efficiency: 113.2 [Points/100 Possessions] (6th)

Up from 112.4 (9th) last month.

Defensive Efficiency: 107.1 [Points/100 Possessions] (8th)

Down from 106.3 (7th) last month.

Pace: 88.2 (27th Fastest)

Down from 88.5 (25th) last month.

@

Offensive Efficiency: 113.5 (5th)

Defensive Efficiency: 107.6 (10th)

The second most difficult game of the 6 game East swing. Given that we dropped the hardest one in blowout fashion, New O has to want this one badly. A loss in this one might prove the East is a little bit better than we thought… or that the Hornets aren’t.

Verdict: WIN (1-0)

@

Offensive Efficiency: 102.6 (29th)

Defensive Efficiency: 111.3 (25th)

Anything less than a CP3 triple double, David West 50 point game, and Peja 15 point 3 barrage will be unacceptable. Seriously, Chris Quinn is going to guard CP3? Earl Barron on DX? Tough times in South Beach… Of course my biggest fear is that this’ll be a trap game for the epic encounter up next.

Verdict: WIN (2-0)

Offensive Efficiency: 104.8 (26th)

Defensive Efficiency: 113.7 (29th)

Miami’s suckitude is actually acceptable, given that their roster is literally half-populated with D-Leaguers. New York, on the other hand, can make no such claim. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if this game is closer than expected; it’ll be the first game back home following the 6 game swing, and you can expect some fatigue.

Verdict: WIN (3-0)


Offensive Efficiency: 114.3 (3rd)

Defensive Efficiency: 110.5 (21st)

If things go on schedule, New O should have a 4 game win streak heading into the first real challenge of April. Normally, I might pick this game as our first stumble, considering the Warriors can get hot on bad attempts and win games. However, having been annihilated on “real” national TV (ABC and not NBATV, etc.) once already, I don’t think the guys will stand for that happening again.

Verdict: WIN (4-0)

Offensive Efficiency: 115.3 (2nd)

Defensive Efficiency: 108.6 (14th)

Did anyone else know Utah has the second most efficient offense in basketball (behind Phoenix?). I definitely didn’t. I’m tempted to pick us in this contest, given Utah’s struggles on the road. But I can’t overlook the fact we would’ve just finished the road trip and a (presumably) high paced game against Golden State.

Verdict: LOSS (4-1)

@

Offensive Efficiency: 103.8 (27th)

Defensive Efficiency: 112.4 (27th)

Another in a string of bad teams; however the T’Wolves have shown some promise of late with wins over Utah and a close one against Boston. We’ve already lost once to them, and two L’s to the Wolves this year would be unacceptable.

Verdict: WIN (5-1)

@

Offensive Efficiency: 113.9 (4th)

Defensive Efficiency: 106.9 (5th)

This game will go a long way in telling us how legit the Hornets are. We’re currently ahead in the season series, but the Lakers will definitely have Gasol integrated back into the offense. Depending on whether they have Bynum or not, this game could go either way. I think Bynum will be back.

Verdict: LOSS (5-2)

@

Offensive Efficiency: 108.6 (14th)

Defensive Efficiency: 111.7 (26th)

One word: revenge. They absolutely humiliated us last time, so the Hornets will be extremely fired up for this game. In addition, it’ll serve as an opportunity to beef up our record in what I’m assuming will be a very close race down the stretch.

Verdict: WIN (6-2)


Offensive Efficiency: 103.3 (28th)

Defensive Efficiency: 110.5 (20th)

Last home game of the regular season! The Hornets will get an opportunity to give thanks for the tremendous fan support over the last two plus months. Also, fans will get to see Elton Brand in action… I’m just hoping Brand can’t get integrated into their game plan quick enough.

Verdict: WIN (7-2)

@

Offensive Efficiency: 112.6 (7th)

Defensive Efficiency: 107.6 (6th)

This game could up being one of two vastly different things. Dallas might be fighting for its playoff life, with Dirk back in the mix. Or the gig might be up, Dirk might never have even attempted a comeback, JKidd and Krew could be resting, and the bench could be playing. Whatever the case, the days of losing to Dallas are over. We’ll win this final game of the regular season no matter the situation.

Verdict: WIN (8-2)

And there you have it, my picks for all 10 games this month. Granted, things like injuries happen, teams get really hot and really cold. But if we can finish this month with an 8-2 record, with losses coming at home against Utah, the and on the road at the Lakers, we’d finish 58-21. That would be the best season in franchise history, and I think enough for first place in the West.

Games against the West: 7

Games against the East: 3

Games at Home: 4

Games on the Road: 6

Game on 0 days rest: 4

Games on 1 day rest: 5

Games on 2 days rest: 1

Games on 3 days rest: 0

As you can see, the schedule is heavy on the back-to-backs with 4 still left. Hopefully this team is really as well conditioned as CP, West, and Byron Scott continually insist. Let’s finish strong for the playoffs!

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4 Responses

  1. Good forecast. I’m hoping they take the Jazz down, though. They’re currently the only Western playoff contender we have a losing record against. And if we slip up anywhere else down the stretch, this tie-breaker might be crucial. Plus, Byron has to get them pumped about playing a team on your home court, who they are 1-2 against, and blew them out both times at their place.

  2. Its just interesting to me the way the scheduling breaks down. How exactly do the hornets draw 4 straight Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-backs to end the season?

  3. Nice breakdown of the remaining schedule. I hear you about the Knicks game, but I like to think our guys will be energized by a big crowd at the Arena welcoming them home.

  4. @ mW

    Yeah, I’d much rather see them take down Utah than Golden State. That’d prove a lot more about this team. Good point about our record against them, can’t believe I missed that. .500 or better against EVERY western team? That’s amaazing.

    @ Mikey

    Ohh yeah, pretty fishy indeed.

    @ Ron

    Good point. It’s really nice we have that little 3 game mini homestand towards the end.

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