Hornets to Bring Early Offensive Surge Against Weary Trail Blazers

Jordan Sharp

Thursday, February 8, 2018 4:11 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 4:11 PM UTC

The Hornets, seemingly on a mission to make the playoffs, have a tough battle tonight against the Trail Blazers. The potential of a high-scoring first half could be the way to cash in.

Thursday NBA: Hornets vs. Trail BlazersFree NBA Pick: Over 109 1HBest Line Offered: Pinnacle

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3264592, "sportsbooksIds":[238,169,1096,999996,93], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":2}[/]

With Dwight Howard playing like he’s 5 years young, and Nicolas Batum healthy and playing well, the Hornets’ offense has started to show some life. With talented guard Kemba Walker running the show and veteran Marvin Williams probable to return, the Trail Blazers’ defense might be strained some in this matchup. It's a defense that has already been showing signs of strain.

Since Jan. 15, the Hornets are playing at a pace of nearly 100 possessions per game with an offensive rating of nearly 112 points per 100 possessions.

During that same stretch, which encompasses 11 games for Portland and 12 for Charlotte, the Blazers' defense has been faltering. Portland has allowed a defensive rating of 108.3, which ranks 21st in the league. To put that into perspective, from the start of the season to Jan. 1, the Blazers had the fifth-best defensive rating at 103.1.

Part of it is fatigue on the part of the Blazers, who are home favorites tonight on the NBA odds board. If the Hornets can speed up this game, they might have the upper hand -- especially in the first half, which is what I'm looking at with my NBA picks. They are averaging 59.2 points per first half over their last five games, and are giving up 56.6 per first half during that stretch.

If Charlotte hits some shots and makes Portland's defense work, I could see a high-scoring first half before these teams settle in for the second.

comment here