After looking on course to make the postseason, the Charlotte Hornets were dealt a huge blow when Gordon Hayward was injured at the weekend, with LaMelo Ball already out.
Nevertheless, the Charlotte Hornets come into this matchup as favorites, as the Oklahoma City Thunder are missing their own star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who remains sidelined.
Fixture - Charlotte Hornets vs Oklahoma City Thunder | 2020-21 NBA Season.
Date & Time - Wednesday, April 7th; 8:00 PM ET (Thursday, April 8th; 5:30 AM IST).
Venue - Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK.
Charlotte Hornets Preview
Gordon Hayward's foot injury could not have come at a worse time for the Charlotte Hornets.
The forward was looking back to his best since moving to the franchise, averaging 19.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. In his first game out, Miles Bridges came into the starting lineup, but the Hornets fell by 30 points against the Boston Celtics on Sunday.
Considering the injury issues plaguing their roster, Coach Borrego's team would have their hands full as they face five opponents with winning records in their next seven matchups.
In a tightly-contested East, the Hornets will have to put in an almighty effort to make it to the playoffs.
Key Player - Terry Rozier
In Hayward's absence, the Charlotte Hornets point guard Terry Rozier will need to continue his fine form. Voted the NBA player of the week for the period 22nd-29th of March, the 27-year-old is having a career-high scoring year, producing 20.4 points per matchup on 46.6% shooting from the field.
In their last ten matchups, no Charlotte Hornets player has averaged more points, assists or rebounds than Rozier.
His offensive efficiency is at an all-time high, while his offensive rating is currently 115, which is seven higher than what he managed last season. While Rozier had formed a formidable partnership with LaMelo Ball, he and Devonte' Graham will be relied upon to propel the Charlotte Hornets into the playoffs.
Charlotte Hornets Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Devonte'e Graham l Shooting Guard - Terry Rozier l Small Forward - Miles Bridges l Power Forward - PJ Washington l Center - Bismack Biyombo.
Oklahoma City Thunder Preview
The Oklahoma City Thunder have lost their last three matchups, but the manner of their defeats must be disconcerting. The Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons and Portland Trail Blazers have all blown out the OKC Thunder, with the latter winning by a whopping 48-point margin.
Without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Oklahoma City Thunder are truly imploding. With the 22-year-old, the Oklahoma City Thunder had hopes of finishing with more than 30 wins, an outcome that few expected heading into the season.
However, their inexperience and lack of star talent is brutally exposing them. Gilgeous-Alexander hopes to be back by mid-April. But by that point, the Thunder could be five losses worse off, with games against the 76ers and Jazz to come.
Key Player - Theo Maledon
French teenager Theo Maledon is currently running the Oklahoma City Thunder's backcourt. The 19-year-old's rookie has averaged 14.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in his last ten outings.
Maledon has been a reliable free-throw shooter during this period, making 85.7% of attempts and averaging 22% of all OKC steals.
With the Oklahoma City Thunder looking to continue their rebuild, Maledon could find himself heavily involved in the next few seasons alongside Gilgeous-Alexander.
Oklahoma City Thunder Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Theo Maledon l Shooting Guard - Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk l Small Forward - Kenrich Williams l Power Forward - Aleksej Pokuševski l Center - Moses Brown.
Hornets vs Thunder Match Prediction
Even without Hayward, the Charlotte Hornets should come away from Oklahoma with a win.
Both teams have two of the ten worst defenses in the league this season. So an open game could ensue. Terry Rozier could look to control proceedings for the Oklahoma City Thunder as their most experienced backcourt starter on the floor.
Since the Charlotte Hornets have been held to under 90 points in two of their last four games, the Oklahoma City Thunder could target an improved defensive performance to fancy their chances of a win.
Where to watch the Charlotte Hornets vs Oklahoma City Thunder matchup?
This NBA game will be broadcast in the USA on local broadcasting networks Bally Sports Oklahoma and Bally Sports Southeast - Charlotte. The match can also be streamed live with an NBA League Pass.