The Charlotte Hornets are playing better basketball of late, winning two in a row and six of their last 10. At home, the Hornets are tough to beat (17-8), but on the road they routinely give laughable performances (7-17).
These drastic home/road splits have put the Hornets in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference, but will ultimately cause them to not make the playoffs for the second straight season. I’m afraid that the Hornets are stuck in the awful middle of the NBA hierarchy: too good to tank, but not good enough to play during the summer time.
While I do believe that the 2015-16 Detroit Pistons will make the Eastern Conference Playoffs, I am a little concerned if they have the mental fortitude to get out of the first round should they have a favorable matchup.
The Pistons have the roster that could upset a No. 3 or No. 4 seed, but they could also end up getting swept in round one due to youth and inexperience. Making the NBA Playoffs is priority No. 1 for Stan Van Gundy’s team, but is this team capable of making any noise once they get there?
While the Indiana Pacers have throttled the Atlanta Hawks both times those teams have played each other this season, they haven’t been able to figure out the rest of the Eastern Conference elite. The Pacers are 4-6 in their last 10 games and are only three games above .500 in 2015-16.
We’ve seen the drastic paradigm shift in small ball philosophies both help and hinder the Pacers this season. While the roster seems like it is all in on this strategy from a construction standpoint, one has to wonder if head coach Frank Vogel doesn’t already miss the big physical style that his team played in to make it to two straight Eastern Conference Finals only a few years ago?
Next: Tier II: Eastern Conference Finals Ceiling