Jason’s 2018-19 NBA picks record through Apr. 8:
25-26-1 ATS, 0-4 ML (minus-9.35 units), 33-20 Totals
Orlando (41-40 SU, 44-36-1 ATS) at Charlotte (39-42 SU, 40-40-1 ATS)
Wednesday, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Free NBA Pick: Hornets ATS
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
So it all comes down to this. The Charlotte Hornets have won four straight games SU and ATS; one more Wednesday night over the visiting Orlando Magic, and they make the Eastern Conference playoffs – if the Detroit Pistons lose to the New York Knicks. Hey, it can happen. The Magic have nothing to play for except seeding, and even there, it’s for a chance to move up from No. 7 to No. 6, and a first-round matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers instead of the Toronto Raptors. Whee?
Suffice to say the Hornets will be the more motivated team of the two – which is enough reason for us to put them in our NBA picks, even though we once again don’t have any odds to work with as we go to press. Orlando head coach Steve Clifford says he wants his team to stay consistent in Game 82 and give it the proverbial 110 percent, but even if he’s being genuine, that’s just not going to happen.
We’re not saying that to be mean. Jonathan Issac (plus-0.1 BPM) has been ruled out of Wednesday’s game because he’s still in concussion protocol after getting whacked in the jaw during Sunday’s massive 116-108 win over the Boston Celtics (–4 at home). Wesley Iwundu (minus-2.9 BPM) will start at small forward instead of Issac, and Jarell Martin (minus-3.5 BPM) is the next man up after that. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.
So let’s get back to Charlotte. They crushed the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-97 on Tuesday as 8.5-point road faves; nobody got hurt, and only Nicolas Batum (plus-0.9 BPM) hit the 30-minute mark in this blowout. Kemba Walker (plus-3.4 BPM) got to hit the showers early after playing just 27 minutes. They do have to travel back home and play on zero days of rest, and Orlando have been idle since Sunday, so that doesn’t help us, but we still like our chances in this situation.
Here’s something else to consider: The Hornets lead their season series with Orlando 2-1 SU and ATS, and that was with Issac starting all three games for the Magic. Having said all that, there’s plenty of room for shenanigans in this matchup – maybe Detroit will open a can of whoop-ass on the Knicks (also an 8:00 p.m. Eastern start) and Charlotte will end up punting the fourth quarter. It could happen, but at least they’re playing at The Hive, so maybe not. Make it a small bet is what we’re saying, and make sure the NBA odds give you a price you like before you jump on board.