I just got home from work and quickly want to point out a few things that I’m going to be looking for in tonight’s game.
1) Of course, Chris Paul. Ryan Schwan, of Hornets247.com, had a great article about the change in Paul’s style of play. I don’t exactly agree with everything Ryan wrote (I’ll try and respond to that tomorrow) but he presents a valid point. Paul has been playing well, his PER rating just dropped out of the top five for the first time all season. He has just been playing differently. I’m going to be looking not at how many/what type of shots he takes, but how involved he is in the offense. Is he actively trying to run it? Or is he passing the ball and standing around? Ryan is right, the Hornets don’t need Paul scoring 30 points a game, but they do need him to play better than he has recently. Chauncey Billups is out. This shouldn’t be a tough match up for him.
More after the jump…
Of one thing things many Hornets fans have noticed over the last two months is that Jarrett Jack is on the court a lot with Chris Paul. At first this makes no sense. Jack is Paul’s backup, they shouldn’t be spending so much time on the floor together. But there is a reason. Monty is scared to take Paul out of the lineup. The Hornets’ offense is far worse without Paul on the floor. When they are both in the same lineup, Jack tends to be the point guard and initiate the offense while Paul switches to being an off-ball 2 guard. This allows Paul to conserve energy while still staying on the court.
2)What is the rotation going to be like? Is Jason Smith or Aaron Gray the second big man off the bench? (Side note: I love that it is second and not first big man off the bench!) I would also like to see a big lineup of Emeka Okafor, David West and Carl Landry. I know Landry has never played at small forward, but I’m just curious to see how this would work out. Speaking of Landry…
3) I want to keep seeing the upward trend with his play. I’d like to see 20+ points tonight.
4) Is this team going to focus? Are people (not just Paul) standing around? Is there movement on offense, are there players cutting to the basket? Is the team paying attention on defense? Are the rotations slow?
5)The Knicks are a poor defensive rebounding team, Okafor needs to be crashing the boards tonight.
6) If Trevor Ariza plays poorly will Monty send him to the pine again? Will Ariza get the message from the night before?
And finally, here is the pregame song to fire you, and the Hornets, up tonight. Time for the team to wake up and unleash the beasts inside them.