Charlotte Hornets vs Denver Nuggets

Don't miss an inter-conference matchup between scoring ace Kemba Walker's Charlotte Hornets and sharpshooting Jamal Murray's Denver Nuggets at 5:00 PM EST on Saturday, 5 January 2019, at the Pepsi Center in Denver, CO. Broadcast is available on Fox Sports Southeast - Charlotte and Altitude; radio available on KKSE-FM 92.5.

How to Watch Charlotte Hornets vs Denver Nuggets

Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

When: 5:00 PM EST, Saturday, 5 January 2019

How (TV/Radio): Fox Sports Southeast - Charlotte, Altitude | KKSE-FM 92.5

Charlotte Hornets

Head Coach: James Borrego {All-Time 28-39 | ORL, CHA}

The Charlotte Hornets are barely maintaining a playoff position. Just a month away from the All-Star Break, the Hornets surely want to secure that playoff spot before the NBA's extended break.

Currently ranked seventh in the Eastern Conference at 18-19, the Charlotte Hornets have lacked the consistency needed to jump ahead of the like of the Miami Heat and challenge the Boston Celtics for a higher ranking in the Eastern Conference.

The Hornets gone 4-6 in their last ten matches. They have won against the weaker teams in the East - Detroit, Brooklyn, Orlando - but have failed when taking on the premier sides of the NBA like Boston and Los Angeles. The Denver Nuggets are top in the West and the Charlotte Hornets will want to prove they can run with the best of them.

Denver Nuggets

Head Coach: Mike Malone {All-Time 183-205 | SAC, DEN}

The Denver Nuggets are comfortably at the top of the Western Conference and top of the NBA with a record of 25-11. They've been near unstoppable at home, posting a record of 15-3 when playing in the Mile High City.

In their last ten matches, the Denver Nuggets have recorded an impressive 8-2 record. They maintain only two losses to the Los Angeles Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs, sandwiched between two four-game win streaks over that ten-game span.

The Charlotte Hornets, on paper, are clearly weaker than the Denver Nuggets. They will however make it a point to lockdown on all-star guard Kemba Walker in order to stifle the Hornets offence that clearly runs through him.

What's At Stake?

In this inter-conference matchup, the Charlotte Hornets and the Denver Nuggets have kept relatively even. The Charlotte Hornets lead the all-time series by a hair, 29-28, over the Denver Nuggets.

A win for the Charlotte Hornets would put them at .500 and place them in a tie for sixth with the Miami Heat.

The Denver Nuggets are top of the Western Conference. A win would set the Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors to 2.5 games behind them.

Questions to answer

What can the Hornets do to compete with the best?

Can the Nuggets lock down Walker?

We are going to compare the Charlotte Hornets and the Denver Nuggets in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.

The Hornets are average across the board

There are only a few traditional statistics where the Charlotte Hornets hold an advantage over their opponents. They are top ten in turnovers, fouls, free-throw percentage, and three-point percentage. The Hornets take care of the ball and make accurate shots, they unfortunately allow team to score easily inside ranking 24th in two-point percentage.

It is no secret that the key to the Hornets' success has been the play of Kemba Walker. Due to the Hornets' sheer lack of depth, Walker is forced to create plays as evidenced by an astounding 30.4% usage rating. Only the likes of Jeremy Lamb and Malik Monk have prove valuable to the Hornets so far this season. Meanwhile the likes of Nicolas Batum, and his $24 million contract, and Frank Kaminsky have proven to be dead weight.

The Hornets need to find an identity that outpaces other teams in that category. For the Warriors it is shooting, for the Raptors it is pace, for the Hornets it has been Kemba Walker. While it is easy to say additional help is all that's necessary, the Hornets fail to have a culture that can challenge an opponents play style.

The Nuggets handled Walker last meeting

In the last matchup with the Charlotte Hornets, they did as positive of a job as a team can against the electric point guard. While he still posted 21 points on the night, the Nuggets held him to 36% shooting and 25% from three. They also forced Walker into five turnovers, helping him to a -10 on the night.

It is unlikely that Kemba Walker will have a similarly poor night against the Nuggets, but they maintain a solid game plan. By crowding Walker on the dribble the Nuggets force other Hornets players into making plays which they will take over Walker's playmaking.

Don't be surprised to see the like of Jamal Murray and Gary Harris take turns taking on Walker on the offensive end. The best way to take out a good offensive option is to challenge them on the defensive end and both Murray and Harris have the size and skill to cause problems for the Hornets leader.

Charlotte Hornets Roster Notes

G Jeremy Lamb (hamstring) did not play on Wednesday and is listed as questionable.

C Cody Zeller (hand) underwent surgery on his right hand (Dec 3) and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

Denver Nuggets Roster Notes

G-F Will Barton (hip/core) did not play on Thursday and is day-to-day coming into this matchup.

F Michael Porter (back) is still without a timetable for his return.

G Isaiah Thomas (hip) is hoping for a return to action this month.

F Jarred Vanderbilt (foot) is still a couple weeks from returning as per Wind of BSN Denver.

Head-to-Head: Kemba Walker vs Jamal Murray

Kemba Walker

25.4 PPG | 6.0 APG | 4.3 RPG | 1.3 SPG | 0.5 BPG | 2.4 TOV | .441 FG% | .364 3P%

Jamal Murray

18.8 PPG | 5.0 APG | 4.6 RPG | 0.9 SPG | 0.4 BPG | 2.5 TOV | .432 FG% | .335 3P%

A matchup between two talented scoring guards, Jamal Murray and Kemba Walker are expected to put on a show for the Denver crowd. While Walker likes to score in isolation, Murray has opened himself to more off-ball movement in an effort to make more easy baskets. Both players have developed their games and will showcase those skills against each other.

By all accounts, Kemba Walker is an outstanding point guard in today's NBA. Where he lacks in size, he makes up for in strength, technical ability, and shooting. All-Star calibre every time he steps on the court, Walker can play with the best of them. He'll be navigating the Denver Nuggets defence which held him to 36% from the field and 25% from three last time out.

Jamal Murray is having a breakout season for the Nuggets, just a year after he had a breakout season as a sophomore. Averaging career-highs almost across the board, Murray is making a case to be included on the Western Conference All-Star team. His size and shooting are problems for any defender, but it has become his off-ball movement that has opened up his game with the introduction of Jokic as playmaker.

Charlotte Hornets at Denver Nuggets Predictions and Odds

The odds makers have the Denver Nuggets favoured over the Charlotte Hornets by 9.5, with an over/under of 110.

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