Hornets’ 2022-23 schedule presents opportunities, challenges

Charlotte will begin its season in San Antonio on Oct. 19

Hornets forward Gordon Hayward has been slowed by injuries in his two seasons in Charlotte, playing just 93 of a possible 154 regular season games. (Jacob Kupferman / AP Photo)

CHARLOTTE — The NBA revealed its 2022-23 schedule last week, and new coach Steve Clifford and the Charlotte Hornets are hoping to put a rocky offseason behind them, overcome a challenging Eastern Conference and reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

The Hornets will open their season on the road against the San Antonio Spurs on Oct. 19 before hosting Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans in their home opener Oct. 21.

That’s just the beginning in what will be a pivotal season for the Hornets.

Stephen Curry and the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors are set to come to Charlotte on Oct. 29, while Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks will be in town on Dec. 3. LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers will play in Charlotte on Jan. 2.

A few weeks after that, the Hornets will host a two-game home series against the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics on Jan. 14, with the second of two (Jan. 16) being a 1 p.m. tipoff on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Hornets will be spending a lot of time on the road to start the season with 12 of their first 21 games away from Charlotte. While that will make for a lot of early travel for a team looking to find its identity, the Hornets will later benefit by having 17 of their final 25 games at home.

One of the early major road games will be in Atlanta on Oct. 23 when Charlotte faces a team that provided them a dose of heartbreak in last season’s play-in tournament. In that matchup, the Hawks beat the Hornets by a 132-103 score, marking the second consecutive year in which Charlotte’s playoff hopes ended in a play-in round blowout loss.

Another important road game will be in Boston on Nov. 28 against a Celtics team with players such as Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart. That matchup could serve as a litmus test for how the Hornets stack up against the top of the Eastern Conference.

The season’s longest homestand will be five games — Utah, Cleveland (2), Philadelphia, Indiana from March 11-20 — while the longest road trip will be six games —Denver, Sacramento, Los Angeles, L.A. Clippers, Portland, Golden State — from Dec. 18-27.

The month of January looks to be Charlotte’s toughest with nine of 15 games on the road, including 13 of the games against playoff-caliber opponents. Those games feature the Lakers, Grizzlies, Bucks, Pacers, Raptors, Celtics and Rockets, among others.

Charlotte has a trio of nationally televised games this season: Nov. 2, at Chicago (ESPN), Jan. 26 vs. Chicago (TNT) and Feb. 10 at Boston (ESPN). The rest of the games will be televised on Bally Sports Southeast and streamed live on BallySports.com.

Despite being one of the most exciting, youthful and athletic teams in the NBA, the Hornets face an uphill battle this season under a different coach and potentially without last season’s top scorer Miles Bridges, who future is uncertain due to felony domestic abuse charges.

With LaMelo Ball running the offense and players such as Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward looking to improve over their efforts last season, the Hornets still have a chance to make noise in a deep Eastern Conference. Charlotte will likely need to improve on its 43-39 record to earn a coveted playoff spot.

Single-game tickets for the 2022-23 season can now be purchased online at hornets.com or ticketmaster.com.