Key Matchup vs. Milwaukee Bucks: Nicolas Batum vs. Khris Middleton

The Hornets will try and bounce back from a tough loss when they wrap up a home-and-home set with the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night in Charlotte.

With Kemba Walker’s status for the season series finale against the Bucks up in the air (head), look for Nicolas Batum to shoulder more of the offensive load. The 10th-year veteran finished with 14 points and a team-high six assists in Milwaukee on Friday night and is three outings removed from a season-high 23 points on Dec. 16. Batum is also shooting 56.3 percent from the field over his last four games, which includes a 57.1 percent conversion rate from long range.

Batum will need to use his size and length on the defensive end to contain Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton, who is coming off a team-high 28-point performance against the Hornets at the BMO Bradley Center. The Texas A&M product also poured in a career-high 43 points in Charlotte back on Nov. 1 and is averaging personal bests in scoring (20.5 points), rebounding (5.2) and assists (4.6) this season.

Milwaukee used a lot of guard-heavy, smaller lineups on Friday night with Middleton consistently in the thick of things. Charlotte will need to do a better job defensively on him, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdan while exploiting any favorable mismatches on the offensive end as well.