Both the Hornets and Jazz will be playing their second game in as many nights. Who are we leaning towards with our NBA picks for Saturday night?
Right now the Hornets are favored by 4.5 points by NBA odds makers, this despite owning a 7-19 overall record.
The O/U is trading at 192 points, suggesting that we should be seeing a defensive struggle more than anything else. Don't expect a super high tempo here between Charlotte and Utah.
Over their last 16 games, the Hornets have gone 3-13. It's been a brutal stretch for this team, and it's even more disappointing when you consider the level of talent they have.
Widely expected to be a contender in a weak Eastern Conference, Charlotte has instead gone the other way. The addition of Lance Stephenson hasn't worked out at all -- it's been so bad that there have been rampant rumors that the Hornets are trying to ship him off away from Charlotte already.
The simple fact is that if you've got a great big in Al Jefferson and a dangerous point guard in Kemba Walker, you should be doing far better. Whether that's down to coaching or the team not buying in to the system isn't a known quantity -- the good news is that there's plenty of time for Charlotte to right the ship.
The Hornets were able to get back on the winning side last night, albeit against the worst team in the league in Philadelphia. Walker had 30 points to go with five assists and four boards, while Jefferson Had a 20/12/3 line. Charlotte was dominant inside and completely bullied the 76ers on their way to the win.
Whereas Charlotte has gone 3-13 over their last 16, the Jazz have gone 3-12 in their past 15 games, so they've been struggling in a major way too.
Last night, however, Utah managed a nice road win in Orlando for their second consecutive victory. Derrick Favors had a big game, posting 23 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks, while Gordon Hayward had a 20/6/3 line in the win. As a team, the Jazz shot 53.4 percent from the floor, with the Magic offering little resistance defensively.
Looking over Utah's personnel, there's certainly some nice young pieces that Quin Snyder has to work with. All five of the team's starters are 24 years old or younger, so the future is bright for the Jazz. They're only going to get better and better with experience, but for now there will be far more struggles than good times. That's just the nature of the beast when it comes to the high-level NBA.
Coming into tonight, Utah is ranked 21st in both scoring (96.7 points per game) points allowed (101.4 PPG), so they've been pretty below average across the board. That being said, they'll be going for their third straight W this evening.
Not the most glamorous of matchups, that's for sure. However, that doesn't mean we can't exploit the betting odds with our NBA Picks today.
And, though we've obviously been disappointed with what we've seen out of Charlotte, we do think they'll be able to find solutions and find their way again. Adding a player like Stephenson was always going to change up the chemistry, but he's a huge talent and we believe they'll figure it out sooner rather than later. Until then, they should continue to ride the hot play of Walker and Jefferson.
With both teams playing their second games of a back-to-back, on the road no less, we'd say the slight edge has to go to the home team in this instance. Jefferson should have his way with the weak interior defense that Utah brings to the table, and we look for that to be the catalyst in a Hornets win and ATS cover. Good luck!
Free NBA Pick: Charlotte Hornets -4.5 at BetOnline Sportsbook