Mark Williams had a smile on his face as he thought about the excitement that the NBA’s new in-season tournament is bringing.
The Charlotte Hornets’ seven-foot center, whom they drafted No. 15 overall last year out of Duke, spoke about the renewed sense of energy in the building during these contests. The courts are a distinct solid color, with the newly-designed NBA Cup trophy at midcourt, and a runway appearing in the paint by the baskets.
“It’s a little different,” Williams told reporters after practice on Monday. “Obviously, you got the big stripe on the court. There’s definitely a different buzz, a different energy. You can tell people are playing for something.”
The Hornets (3-6) host the Miami Heat on Tuesday night in their second contest of the in-season tournament. They’re already 1-0 in group play — tournament games are on Tuesdays and Fridays until Nov. 28 — after a 124-117 victory against the Wizards last Friday night in Washington.
Charlotte, which dropped a 129-107 matchup with the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, will use its deep teal-colored court for the first time Tuesday. A teal and gold Hornets logo overlays the NBA Cup trophy, and the words, “The Hive is Alive,” are displayed in gold on the apron at center court.
“I like it; I like things like that,” Williams said. “Got a different court. Different jerseys. Just an overall different energy, different vibe.”
Steve Clifford: Tournament is a ‘great idea’
Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford reiterated his fandom of the in-season tournament Monday.
“It’ll probably just take, I think, the fans a little bit of time to get used to, but I think it’s a great idea,” Clifford told reporters. “You’re taking the best players in the world, and after you get through pool play, they’ll be playing in a single-elimination tournament — which doesn’t happen in our world.”
Last week, Clifford mentioned that he is a big soccer fan and admires the single-elimination nature of its postseason. While there are kinks to work out in the first year of anything, he feels that having this kind of tournament with a sport like basketball — like the NCAA’s March Madness tournaments — will bring out the best in this sport.
“We’ll see the competitiveness and the individual players come out,” Clifford continued. “I think it’ll be fun to watch. Like I said, I’m not sure, just because of the newness, I don’t know if it’ll be this year, but I think it’s a great concept and I think people will like it.”
Brandon Miller listed as probable for Tuesday’s game
Brandon Miller is listed as probable for Tuesday night’s game against Miami, the Hornets announced Monday.
Miller was initially considered day-to-day after spraining his left ankle during the second quarter of Sunday’s loss to New York. The Hornets’ prized rookie had been playing well in his fourth career start, scoring 11 points in 10 minutes, before landing on Knicks guard Josh Hart’s foot.
The No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, Miller has been averaging 12.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in his rookie season.