Charlotte Hornets forward P.J. Washington (25) gets a layup defended by Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela (15)

The Charlotte Hornets could sting the high-flying Atlanta Hawks in the play-in game 

April 13, 2022

Hornets at Hawks

State Farm Arena – Atlanta, GA

7:00 PM ET

Atlanta -5.5

It’s been a bit of a disappointing season for the Hawks, one they’re hoping to salvage via the play-in tournament. A year after advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals, Atlanta is going to have to take the long route back to the playoffs.

First, the Hawks have to get a win tonight against the Hornets. If they pull that off, they’ll travel to Cleveland for an elimination game against the Cavaliers. It’s not going to be easy.

It starts with a showdown against an upstart Charlotte team. The Hornets are a young, talented team that likes to get up and down the court.

Apr 10, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets ready to celebrate the win in the final seconds against the Washington Wizards during the second half at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Hornets averaged 115.3 points per game during the regular season, the fourth-highest total in the league. A backcourt featuring Terry Rozier and LaMelo Ball lead the way, as they like to push the pace. And when Charlotte decides to go small, with P.J. Washington at center and Miles Bridges at the four, they can create some matchup problems for opponents.

They’ll be without Gordon Hayward, however, which certainly hurts. The 6-foot-7 small forward is out with a foot injury.

Speaking of injuries, the Hawks aren’t sure if they’ll have John Collins back for tonight. Atlanta’s power forward is a game-time decision with both a foot and finger injury.

Mar 16, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) brings the ball up court against the Charlotte Hornets during the second quarter at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

That means they’ll need their other stars to step up. That begins with Trae Young.

The point guard became a star during last year’s playoffs. The league’s fourth-leading scorer (27.2 points per game) in the regular season will need to rekindle the magic.

Expect a high-scoring game. The Hornets have already won in Atlanta once this season. And they won three straight heading into the postseason. Take Charlotte and the points on the road.

Jason Schlefsky’s pick: Charlotte +5.5 (-110)

Wednesday’s NBA Quick Picks

San Antonio +5.5 (-110)

Tuesday’s NBA Winners

Minnesota M/L (-150)