Extra Pass: Nets host Hornets to open 11-day home stretch

Published October 24, 2021, 2:00 PMMiguel Flores

After splitting a pair of road games, the Nets will have a six-game homestand, beginning with a match against LaMelo Ball and the Hornets.

Get ready to sleep early today so you can catch tomorrow's Charlotte Hornets vs. Brooklyn Nets game live at 4:00 AM on NBA TV Philippines.

The Nets are absolutely worth your early morning coffee, but you might be wondering why you should get up for the Hornets. First, the Hornets are once again the most fun team in the league to watch and might single-handedly merit an NBA League Pass purchase.

Powered by LaMelo Ball's sublime playmaking, the Hornets are still playing an up-tempo style of hoops that produces a Twitter-worthy highlight at least twice per quarter. Ball, the 2021 Rookie of the Year, has picked up right where he left off last season, navigating the Hornets’ offense with his unique flair. His no-look and full-court passes get clipped all the time, but Ball deserves credit for the sound decision-making he’s been displaying early in his career.

Ball in two games this season is averaging 24 points, six rebounds, and six assists with a 31-point explosion on opening day. And the Hornets have so far taken their cues from their young leader as they’ve won both of their games. 

Perhaps the most crucial improvement the Hornets made in the offseason is with their depth at the wings. They have a fully healthy Gordon Hayward looking spry to start the season. Miles Bridges already poured in 30 points against Cleveland, showing off a smoother, more confident 3-point stroke. The Hornets then have off-season signing Kelly Oubre Jr. and returning Cody Martin coming off the bench and bringing a ton of pop on both ends. When Terry Rozier recovers fully from an ankle injury from preseason, the Hornets get another offensive weapon – one of the most clutch scorers from last season. 

Brooklyn, on the other hand, is still top-heavy. It must be a massive relief to lose one of the best scorers of his generation in Kyrie Irving indefinitely and still have two top offensive threats in the league leading your team. Steve Nash is hoping Kevin Durant and James Harden can continue carrying gargantuan offensive burdens every game.

So far, the Nets have been challenged. On opening night, they tried to come back, but ultimately fell short to the defending champions Milwaukee Bucks. They looked like they were in for another loss against the Philadelphia 76ers, but Durant, Harden, and a rejuvenated LaMarcus Aldridge pulled off a late comeback to steal the win.

The Nets’ offense starts and stops with their two stars. Durant dropped 32 on the Bucks then had a 29-point triple-double against Philly. Harden, on the other hand, has had near triple-doubles in both of their games.

Luckily for Brooklyn, their veteran role players have been stepping up. Patty Mills looks like an early favorite for Sixth Man of the Year as he is currently 10-for-10 from deep. The aforementioned Aldridge and Blake Griffin have been rocks down low and will have valuable throwback moments throughout the season.

But it’s going to be Brooklyn’s duo trying to overcome the Hornets’ depth on Monday. Expect a high-scoring affair with enough defense on crucial plays producing the gaps that will define the result of this early matchup. Brooklyn, even without Irving, looks like they have enough juice to conquer the East this year, while the Hornets look like a dark horse, top-four squad.