Hornets vs. Cavaliers NBA Picks: Cleveland's Success Hinges on Lebron

Jay Pryce

Sunday, April 3, 2016 12:00 PM GMT

Sunday, Apr. 3, 2016 12:00 PM GMT

LeBron owns the Hornets. But will he play? His participation is vital to hanidcapping this playoff-instrumental matchup. Find your edge for this contest with our betting analysis at Sportsbook Review.

Charlotte Hornets (44-31 SU, 38-35-2 ATS)
The Hornets are one of the hottest teams since the All Star break. Their 77.3 win percentage (17-5 SU) trails only the Spurs and Warriors as the NBA's best. Moreover, they've rewarded bettors handsomely. Going 13-9 ATS, coach Steve Clifford's bunch are playing nearly 2 points above oddsmakers' expectations. They're 13 covers are tied for second-most in this span behind the Trailblazers and Grizzlies.

With seven games left in the season, Charlotte clinched a playoff spot with the Pistons defeating the Bulls last night 94-90. It is tied with the Hawks for the No. 3 seeding in the East, and battling Atlanta and Miami for the Southeast crown.

Defense is Charlotte's bread and butter. It holds opponents to just 100.5 points per game, and excels down low, allowing the third fewest points in the paint in the NBA at 39.7 per contest. Its strong presence down low helps prevent extra scoring chances as well. Despite generating a below average 13.4 turnovers per game, the frontcourt are box-out kings, allowing the league's fewest offensive rebounds with 8.7 per game. As a road dog, though, the team is just 2-8 SU and ATS against teams pulling down 10.6 or more offensive rebounds per tilt, out rebounded by nearly eight boards per contest. The Cavs gobble up 10.8 a night.

Offensively, the Hornets live on the perimeter. They launch (29.2) and make (10.5) the fourth most three pointers in the league. They also protect the ball better than anyone, gifting the league's fewest turnovers with 12.6 per game.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers (54-22 SU, 35-38-3 ATS)
LeBron James owns the Hornets. Since 2010, he is 22-1 SU and 15-8 ATS; though did drop his only game with Cleveland in an away trip to the Queen City in February. Charlotte has been unable to stop his isolation play, particularly on the road, where James averages 27.3 points per game in 24 meetings. The King's 469 iso-looks this season is third most in the NBA, and Nicolas Batum, who LeBron is 8-for-16 from the floor against in his career, will be in charge of stopping him. Good luck. James, in fact, is 85-for-151 (55%) from the field against the Hornets' current roster.

Cleveland has looked a little shaky on defense at times since Tyronn Lue took over head coaching duties in late January, allowing 100.6 points per game versus 95.7 prior. But the team is clamping down as they prepare for a championship run. Its 99.9 points per 100 possessions is third best in efficiency over the last five games.

Like the Hornets, Cleveland will fire away from downtown; its 29.6 attempts and 10.5 made rank third in the NBA. Charlotte has struggled to keep up with successful three-point shooting teams. It is 4-12 SU and 5-11 ATS against foes scoring 9.2 treys or more a night. Away from home, it is 0-7 and 1-5-1 ATS in this situation, giving away 10.4 threes a contest. The Cavaliers may give Charlotte a lot of trouble from behind the arc.

 

Final Analysis
As of publication, The NBA Odds have yet to set a number on the game with James a game-time decision (rest) nearly every night from now until the postseason. If the King suits up, play Cleveland as your NBA Pick. He's in championship mode. If the King sits, play the Hornets. As we mentioned in our last Cavs write-up, James is worth a lot to this team, and the market tends to underestimate his value when missing. Since returning to Cleveland last season, the Cavs are 4-13 SU and 1-15-1 ATS with him out of the lineup, losing games by an average of 10.0 points. When he plays, Cleveland wins at a 73 percent clip and are 6.7 points to the good. That's quite the spread in scoring margin.  

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Free NBA Pick:  Cavaliers -7 -105
Best Line Offered:  at Heritage

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