For the first time in four seasons, the Charlotte Hornets’ season opener is at home — Wednesday, Oct. 17 against the Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The regular-season closer is also at Spectrum Center — April 10 against the Orlando Magic and former Hornets coach Steve Clifford.
A breakdown of the Hornets’ 82-game schedule, announced Friday by the NBA:
Front-loaded at home
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With an abundance of non-Hornets basketball at Spectrum Center this winter (NBA All-Star game, CIAA and ACC tournaments) it’s no surprise a large portion of the home schedule will come early. Twenty-one of the Hornets’ 41 home games come before New Year’s Day.
The All-Star Game is in Charlotte Feb. 17, an event that takes over Spectrum Center and also involves other venues such as the convention center. The Hornets will not play a home game between Feb. 8 and 19 to make room for preparations of the arena.
If the Hornets aren’t above .500 in early March, it will be hard to imagine them making up ground to make their first playoff appearance in three seasons. Starting with a four-game road trip (in Milwaukee) they play 12 consecutive games against likely playoff teams.
The sure sellout when LeBron James is in Charlotte will be reduced to one-a-season with him moving to the Western Conference’s Los Angeles Lakers. This season, the Lakers are at Spectrum Center Dec. 15, part of a five-game homestand.
Former Davidson star Stephen Curry and the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors are at Spectrum Center Feb. 25.
Longtime San Antonio Spurs assistant James Borrego gets his first full-time NBA head-coaching gig this season with the Hornets. First game against the Spurs is in San Antonio Jan. 14. The Spurs game in Charlotte is March 26.
The NBA has tried to cut back on games on back-to-back nights, but the Hornets didn’t do well in that regard, with 15 sets of games on consecutive nights (although three of those are home-home, which are far less taxing since they do not involve travel).
ABC and TNT passed on national telecasts of the Hornets this season. ESPN’s schedule includes the April 10 game against the Orlando Magic, but there’s probably a good chance that changes if neither team is in playoff contention in the last game of the season.
The Hornets have a 1 p.m. home game against the Portland Trail Blazers (Seth Curry’s new team) on Sunday, March 3. That’s the only true day game on the home schedule this season (a couple of 5 p.m. tipoffs and mostly 7 p.m.)
Since the Hornets are always active traders, the 2018-19 trade deadline is Feb. 7 at 3 p.m. That’s an off-day between road games in Dallas and Atlanta.