Games to keep an eye on this year for the Hornets

NEW ORLEANS - APRIL 28: An aerial view of Louisiana Superdome and the New Orleans Arena in downtown New Orleans, Louisiana on April 10, 2010. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The New Orleans Hornets and New Orleans Saints, so close yet so far apart--what games should Hornets fans attend this season?

This year the Hornets have a seemingly difficult schedule this year as Ryan Schwan over at points out. But that doesn’t mean we as fans can’t look at a few games that could excite, frustrate, incite optimism and at the same time hold our expectations to ground. The NBA season is a long and grueling run where by teams have to use their endurance and patience to be successful.

Let’s head over the jump to see some of the highlights of the season may be…

Wednesday 27th of October: Milwaukee Bucks

Opening night, it seems like an eternity away. The Hornets open up the campaign against one of the up and coming teams in the league, the Bucks. This is a huge test for the boys because the Bucks have quietly put together a nice team this off-season. A starting lineup of Jennings, Salmons, Maggette, Gooden and Bogut is quite intimidating. Add in bench players like Delfino, Ilyasova, Brockman, Sanders, Douglas-Roberts and you have yourselves quite a formidable foe. It’ll be quite a test for the Hornets as the Bucks will be able to hit you in the post with Bogut, work the Pick-and-roll with Jennings, have the scoring of Maggette and the shooting of Salmons and Delfino. The way the Hornets can beat these guys is defense, but if we get out and run maybe we can slow down the playoff team’s production.

Friday 5th of November:  Miami Heat

The man himself Lebron James walks into the Crescent City with his new pose and new threads. This is a big game for Paul as it could end up being a statement game if the Hornets walk away with a win. I do not think the Hornets will win this, the Heat are just too talented. Maybe their arrogance and over-confidence becomes their fatal flaw, but that won’t be until the playoffs. Still, it will be quite a game even if the Hornets get blown out.

Sunday 21st of November to Monday 29th of November: A western road-trip

In that 8 day span we face these teams on the road:

  • Sacramento
  • Los Angeles (Clippers)
  • Utah
  • Portland
  • Oklahoma City

As well as facing San Antonio at home.

Last year the Hornets were a terrible road team and it’s unknown whether it will be any different this season. Usually if teams want to win on the road, they have to play defense. This will be a time when the Hornets are truly tested as to how much their defense has improved.

Wednesday 29th of December and Friday 7th of January: Los Angeles Lakers

If the Hornets are to play with the big boys the Lakers are the team to do it against. The Hornets play the Lakers twice in the span of a week or so and if they can win one out of the two it will be a testament to the teams hard-work and will put a bullet in the Chris Paul rumors that are sure to surface as the trade deadline approaches.

The Month of April

I think the Hornets may end up looking towards the month of April with a sense of urgency to win. I see the team on fringe of the playoffs here as I am extremely uncertain of injuries, the gelling of the unit and how the coaching staff is integrated with the roster. The Hornets have a run like this heading to the end of the season:

  • Memphis
  • Indiana
  • Houston
  • Phoenix
  • @ Memphis
  • Utah
  • @ Dallas

That is a very favorable run-in to the playoffs as most are at home against teams that the Hornets will likely be battling for that 6th, 7th or 8th position in the west. Sure the Hornets have some of the most back-to-back games in the season, but if they can push through that to get to a position in April where all they need to do is win, then this run helps the team.

Many have been curious as to how the Hornets will do this year, I personally can’t put a number on it because there are so many question marks about this team. Even in a year (2008-09) where the Hornets seemingly had no “on paper holes” they flopped, just taking the 7th seed and getting blown out by the Nuggets. I can’t bring myself to give this team any more than 55 wins this year and that’s if everything goes right, but I hope I am wrong.

There’s a lot of talent on this team and a lot of potential. But the last time we used that word it was in the same sentence as the words, “Julian Wright.” So for me the word potential is meaningless if the team cannot put it into practice.

What are your thoughts on the upcoming season? What games are you looking forward to? Is there anyway Paul becomes a MVP candidate this year? Let’s hear your thoughts.

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Tags: Andrew Bogut Chris Paul Lebron James Los Angeles Lakers Miami Heat Milwaukee Bucks Monty Williams New Orleans Hornets Playoff Run

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