Key Matchup vs. Miami Heat: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. Josh Richardson
Another four-game homestand for the Charlotte Hornets gets underway on Friday night as they’ll take on the division-rival Miami Heat for the second time in two weeks at Spectrum Center.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been quietly spectacular for Charlotte lately, posting averages of 14.8 points on 64.1 percent shooting, 7.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals over his last four appearances. While known largely for his defensive prowess, Kidd-Gilchrist actually leads the team in offensive rating (109.7), net rating (4.2) in addition to steals (1.57) through seven games this month.
Charlotte will need Kidd-Gilchrist to lock down third-year Miami counterpart Josh Richardson, who erupted for a career-high 27 points against the Hornets back on Dec. 1. The former second-round pick out of Tennessee is currently the Heat’s second-leading scorer this month (15.2 PPG) and is averaging a team-high 1.11 steals per game overall this season.
Richardson has also knocked down 53.8 percent of his three-point attempts in December (14-of-26), although has a career-low 32.3 percent conversion rate from beyond the arc this season. With Miami center Hassan Whiteside (knee) ruled out, Kidd-Gilchrist will be plenty busy making sure Richardson doesn’t get too comfortable on any dribble-drive kickouts to long range.