Team: Charlotte Hornets (13-22) at LA Clippers (15-19)
Time: Sunday, December 31, 2017 at 7:00pm ET (Staples Center)
Don’t look now, but the Clippers have won 7 out of their last 11 games, and are looking to go on a 3 game win streak tonight. The only thing standing in the way of a happy New Year, are the Charlotte Hornets. Despite struggling as of late, the Hornets are fresh off of a very good victory against the Golden State Warriors.
Dwight Howard was a monster in that game, putting up: 29 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals.
Surprisingly, both teams are very similar stats-wise. The Clippers are the 14th best offensive team (105.5 PPG), and the Hornets are 17th (104.4). Both teams are tied in their defensive ratings, holding opponents to 106 PPG. Both teams have nearly identical assist rankings, LA is 26th (20.7) & Charlotte is 27th (20.5).
The biggest difference between these two teams, are the rebounding & steals category. Charlotte is the 2nd best rebounding team in the league (46.7), but dead last at forcing steals (6.5). This differentiation gives you a slight indication at how the Clippers need to play this game.
Rebound the Ball
If the Clippers don’t stay in the rebounding battle tonight, Charlotte will eat them alive. In their previous match up, Charlotte out-rebounded Los Angeles; the Hornets outscored the Clippers in second-chance points 19-5. The Clippers have hustled harder than any team during this injured stretch, and tonight should be no exception for them.
No Unforced Turnovers
Charlotte is the worst team at forcing steals, and the 25th worst team at forcing turnovers. That means the Clippers can’t allow any unforced turnovers, and all Clipper turnovers need to be earned by Charlotte. However, Charlotte is one of the best teams at taking care of the ball. The Hornets are the 4th best team at limiting turnovers (12.9 TOVPG), and the best team at limiting opponents points off of turnovers (14.4 PPG). LA needs to be on Charlotte’s level of taking care of the ball in order to win this game.
Prediction: The Clippers will win if they can stay within 5 in the rebounding category, and if they have 11 turnovers or less.