NBA Free Premium Play 02/08
Pick: Charlotte Hornets (+3.5) (Play up to +3)
Odds: -110 / 1.91 on Bookmaker OR -105 / 1.95 on Sportsbook
Charlotte was one of the teams that could have been sellers on today's trade deadline, but the truth is that the team kept their core and today with Marvin back and with Zeller giving Howard solid backup minutes, we'll have Charlotte at their best, something that has been rare this season. The Hornets' advanced numbers are pretty solid and besides their FG% allowed, they are having big edges on rebounding, turnovers and free throws, which means that they don't beat themselves. On their last game, they lost at Denver due to the combination of a bad matchup and poor spot. Denver with Jokic was a bad matchup for Howard and the Hornets, as they forced Howard out of his comfort zone, which opened space at the paint for the Nuggets' guards, which at the same time, Howard showed that he struggles to guard on the outside, which allowed Denver to have a great offensive combo of shots made at the rim and from the three points line.
The Hornets will now play at Portland, where with Batum's improved play, I believe Charlotte's backcourt will be able to go toe to toe with Portland's backcourt, while they will have more options to support their backcourt. Portland is struggling on rebounding as of late and they've been outrebounded on their last four games. We have exactly the opposite with the Hornets, who have been dominating the boards battles lately. I believe this will be a close battle and so, I'll be taking the Hornets plus the points.