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Gordon Hayward ruled out Sunday vs. Spurs

Hornets veteran forward is dealing with a back injury and will not play on Valentine’s Day.

Gordon Hayward of the Charlotte Hornets plays defense during the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on February 12, 2021 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Charlotte Hornets SF Gordon Hayward has been ruled out for Sunday’s game vs. the San Antonio Spurs due to a back injury. The Hornets say that it’s just back discomfort, so the injury doesn’t appear to be serious. Charlotte is already down three players due to health and safety protocols. The Hornets will be missing two starters: Hayward and PF P.J. Washington.

Update: So naturally, Bridges ended up starting for Hayward. As is tradition with most chalky plays that pop up due to injuries, Bridges is looking like a complete bust on the slate. He went scoreless in the first half in XX minutes. On the bright side, the Hornets have no choice but to give Bridges another 15 minutes or so in the second half. So there’s a chance he can salvage the spot. He did end up with two assists and two rebounds FWIW.

The Hornets have Washington in health and safety protocols along with Caleb Martin and his brother, Cody Martin. So that means four rotation players won’t be available for the Hornets to end the week vs. the Spurs. Charlotte had been running a tight rotation with those players out. We can expect Miles Bridges to slide into the starting lineup at forward along with LaMelo Ball, Devonte’ Graham, Terry Rozier and Cody Zeller.

The absence of Hayward could open up some playing time for Jalen McDaniels along with Malik Monk. The biggest benefactor of the bunch is Bridges, who has been playing big minutes recently. He’s only $5,100 on DraftKings and will be pretty chalky with the Hayward news. Bridges also has a four-game double-double streak going that could be extended now that he’ll almost be forced to play around 30-35 minutes vs. the Spurs.

With Hayward sidelined, the Hornets line will likely swing more in favor of the Spurs. The Hornets were getting 1.5 points in the morning. We can expect the Spurs to be favored by around 3-4 points now that Hayward has been ruled out. That’s still a pretty good number. San Antonio has won four of the past five games heading into Sunday. The only injured player for Gregg Popovich is LaMarcus Aldridge, who has been sidelined since the beginning of February.

Update: The line is back up and the Spurs are favored by 4 points. Considering the Hornets are likely going to be down two starters and two bench players. The thin rotation may not be a big deal but the lack of size will be the issue. Washington is doubtful so Zeller and Bismack Biyombo are the only bigs for Charlotte. The Spurs have a deeper bench and some more size, which will be key.

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