The Oklahama City Thunder’s opening NBA Regular season match was postponed due to the Houston Rockets not having enough players. They now take on the Charlotte Hornets in their first matchup on Boxing day evening. The Charlotte Hornets, on the other hand, come into the game after a seven-point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers and will be looking to kickstart their NBA campaign as they attempt to chart their way into the playoffs for the first time in five seasons.
Fixture: Oklahoma City Thunder vs Charlotte Hornets | NBA Season 2020-21
Date & Time: Saturday, December 26th, 7:00 PM ET (Sunday, 6 AM IST)
Venue: Spectrum Center, Charlotte
Oklahoma City Thunder Preview
The Oklahoma City Thunder will be expected to make a push for the playoffs after an offseason filled with innumerable moves. While the most notable departure is that of Chris Paul to the Phoenix Suns, players such as Dennis Schröder, Terrance Ferguson, Steven Adams and Danilo Gallinari have all left the Thunder for new teams.
On the other hand, the addition of Al Horford, George Hill and Ty Jerome, along with the newly hired coach Mark Daigneault, means that the Oklahoma City Thunder are in transition with one eye on the future. They have acquired quite a few first-round picks and seco-round selections until around the 2027 NBA draft, and will be looking at Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to lead the charge for a playoff spot.
Key player: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was first acquired by the Charlotte Hornets with the 11th overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft. He was traded to the Clippers before making his way to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a deal that also involved Paul George.
Last season, he was the Oklahoma City Thunder’s leading scorer and averaged 16.3 points and 4.1 assists per game. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is expected to improve his shooting over the coming time and will be looking to help his team make a serious run for the playoffs.
Oklahoma City Thunder Predicted Lineup
George Hill, Shae Gilgeous Alexander, Luguentz Dort, Darious Bazley, Al Horford
Charlotte Hornets Preview
The Charlotte Hornets will be looking to bounce back after a fairly demoralizing loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers in a game where Terry Rozier managed 42 points. Devonte’ Graham had a tough night offensively as he registered merely 10 points in addition to 10 assists, and the Charlotte Hornets’ defense looked incapable of keeping up with the offensive versatility of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
However, a new look Oklahoma City Thunder might be the perfect opponents for the Charlotte Hornets and their stars to bounce back. With the acquisitions of LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward, they certainly have the tools to make it to the playoffs, and will be looking to register their first win of the campaign.
Key player: Devonte’ Graham
Devonte’ Graham is considered to be a contender for the most improved NBA player award, and is expected to improve on his defense over the next few seasons. Offensively, he has shown potential to emerge as one of the best scorers of the NBA and will be looking to build on a successful individual season.
He registered a career high of 18.2 points and 7.2 assists per game last season, and the new acquisitions mean that the Charlotte Hornets look set to be genuine playoff contenders this time around. Of course, this will be the first time in five seasons that they manage to get past the regular NBA season.
Charlotte Hornets Predicted Lineup
Devonte’ Graham, Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward, PJ Washington, Cody Zeller
Thunder vs Hornets Match Prediction
The Oklahoma City Thunder have not started their Regular Season campaign yet while the Charlotte Hornets come off the back of a 7-point loss against the Cavaliers. Both teams will be looking to register their first win of the Regular Season.
The matchup is expected to be close, although the Charlotte Hornets might just go into the game thinking that they can get their first win of the season. Both teams have seen quite a few changes during the offseason and will be looking to kickstart their campaigns.