Taking The Sting Out Of The Hornets: Previewing Tonight's Matchup With Charlotte

By phillyfansince88
Jan. 14, 2017

Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
The Killer

Tonight's game against Charlotte should prove to be a tough test for your Seventy-Sixers.  Don't let their record fool you.  The Hornets are a legitimate playoff team and have been for a few years now.  Kemba Walker is an absolute killer, and they've got more depth on the wing than it would seem at first glance.  Where Charlotte is really deep though is inside, with multiple current or former starters at both post positions.  Having said that, this is definitely a winnable game.  Here are the matchups at each position and the keys to a Sixers win tonight.

First, let's take a look at how the Sixers match up with Charlotte at each position.

Point guard: The Sixers can win this positional matchup IF Sergio plays and has a big game or Nik Stauskas plays heavy minutes as the backup and plays the way he's capable of and they can keep Kemba Walker in check.  That's easier said than done, and given the fact that TJ will probably again play the majority of the minutes here, this is a positional matchup they're unlikely to win.

Shooting guard: The Sixers can definitely win this positional matchup.  Batum is an excellent player and solid defender but he can be taken out of a game if you attack him on both ends and get up into him.  Marco Belinelli is a very talented offensive player but a terrible defender and like Sergio he's not the same player he was in his younger years.  If Nik Stauskas and Gerald Henderson play up to their capabilities and attack relentlessly on both ends, the Sixers can definitely win this positional matchup.  If TLC can play up to his capabilities defensively let alone on both ends, Charlotte shouldn't have a chance in hell of winning this positional matchup.

Small forward: This positional matchup would seem to be an easy win for the Sixers at first blush but in reality, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a problem who is a much better offensive player than his numbers suggest and can drive into the teeth of a defense relentlessly, and Treveon Graham is probably the best young player you've never heard of and a guy who is very capable of dropping twenty or more on you even though he hasn't gotten much of an opportunity to this point.  Both are also fantastic defenders and complete players who love to mix it up down low.  That said, if Robert Covington plays up to his capabilities on both ends, the Sixers can and should win this positional matchup easily.

Power forward: Here's where Charlotte starts becoming a problem again.  Marvin Williams and Frank Kaminsky are both solid players and capable scorers who can knock down the three.  That said, the Sixers easily have the talent, depth, and versatility here to win this positional matchup easily.  If they don't, this is probably a blowout loss.

Center: Now here is where Charlotte really becomes a problem.  The Sixers only have two legitimate Centers on the roster, and one of them doesn't even play.  Cody Zeller has been a serious problem for Philadelphia since being drafted in 2013 thanks to his agility and athleticism, and Roy Hibbert used to be considered the best Center in basketball at one point.  Luckily, the Sixers have Joel Embiid.  I have a feeling Hibbert might give Embiid some problems but he and Nerlens should be able to get both him and Zeller in foul trouble and shut them down defensively.

Now here are the keys to a Sixers victory tonight.

1. Death by RoCo- This is a game where Covington can be a major difference if he can play up to his capabilities on both ends.  MKG and Treveon Graham are great defenders and guys who are really a problem when they're aggressive offensively but an aggressive Covington can easily get both in foul trouble and can neutralize both defensively, which could really have a major impact on the game.  He can get every single one of Charlotte's defenders into foul trouble if he really wants to.

2. Get To The Line- After Kemba, there is a huge dropoff at point guard on both ends of the floor, and really at every position the backups are very unproven and in most cases very poor defenders.  This is a game where getting Hornets into foul trouble could be huge.

3. Attack On Both Ends- This should go without saying.

4. No Easy Looks For Charlotte And Especially Kemba- This should also go without saying.  Kemba will absolutely kill you if you let him.  Deny Charlotte the paint, stay in front of them defensively, and force them to beat you with contested jumpers.

5. Own The Paint- Again, this should go without saying.

Don't Sleep On

Ramon Sessions- Sessions isn't the player he used to be but he can still score, and well we all know what backup point guards do to us with TJ's "defense".

Brian Roberts- Same as above.

Marco Belinelli- Belinelli isn't the same player he was in San Antonio even but he can still score and flat out bomb from deep.  He's exactly the kind of player who can kill you off the bench.

Treveon Graham- Graham's playing at small forward with the Hornets but he's a true shooting guard who can flat out score and is a very capable outside shooter.  He's a very good overall player who is just waiting to get his chance to finally break out and can impact a game without scoring.

Frank Kaminsky- Kaminsky made a name for himself at Wisconsin by dominating Karl Anthony Towns in an upset win over Kentucky in the Final Four but he's also a very capable outside shooter and can really surprise you offensively.

Roy Hibbert- Hibbert isn't the same player he was in Indiana but you're crazy if you think he can't still hurt you.

Spencer Hawes- Sixers fans know why.

To sum it up, this is a very winnable game but far from a cakewalk.  More importantly, it's a good measuring stick game against a genuine playoff team that features one of the best players in the league.  Execute the above keys to the game and you can definitely win.  Fail to do so, and Charlotte will show you exactly why they've made the playoffs recently and can definitely do so again.