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Hornets vs. Nuggets: NBA Picks and Predictions

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Hornets vs. Nuggets: NBA Picks and Predictions
LaMelo Ball #2 of the Charlotte Hornets. Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images/AFP

The red-hot Charlotte Hornets visit the Denver Nuggets in what should be a very entertaining game on Wednesday. Here’s a complete preview, including updated odds and free NBA picks.

Charlotte Hornets vs. Denver Nuggets

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 – 09:00 PM EST at Ball Arena

The Nuggets opened as 7-point favorites and over at FiveThirtyEight, they have them at -11. This leaves a 4-point gap between the projections and the actual NBA odds. We need at least two points between the projections and the lines before we lay any serious wood. Here we are getting enough. FiveThirtyEight gives the Nuggets an 86 percent chance to win. The equivalent moneyline is -614.

For support, we turn to USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin’s projections; he has the Nuggets at -7.18 using his Rating numbers, and at TBD using his eigenvector analysis. That leaves some room to grab potential betting value with the Nuggets -6.37 at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review). Is Denver the play on Wednesday? Our arbitrage betting calculator can help you take advantage of the differences in sportsbook odds.

The Hornets Look Unstoppable

The Hornets have won four straight games, including their three home contests after the All-Star break. It all started with a close 105-102 victory against the Pistons, then they beat the Raptors 114-104 and the Kings 122-116 on Monday. LaMelo Ball keeps making his case for Rookie of the Year, he is averaging 18.9 points, 6.9 assists and 5.6 rebounds on 44.8 percent from 3-point range in his last 10 games while Devonte' Graham has looked good after missing seven games due to a knee injury. He is putting up 14.5 points and 4.0 assists on 52.9 percent 3-point shooting off the bench in his last two games.

After trailing almost the entire game, the Hornets overcame a 15-point deficit in the second half to beat the Kings 122-116 on Monday. Terry Rozier led the way with 26 points, Gordon Hayward had 25 points and eight rebounds and Ball added 16 points, four rebounds and four assists. Rozier and Hayward were a combined 13-for-13 from the free-throw line and they helped the Hornets outscore the Kings 21-8 in the final 5:30 minutes. The Charlotte reserves played a big role in the victory, outscoring the Sacramento bench 42-22. This can also be the case against the Nuggets. More on that later.

The Nuggets Got Back on Track

A depleted Nuggets team got a hard-fought 103-102 road win against the Grizzlies on Friday, followed by a 116-103 road loss against the Mavericks the next night and they're coming off a solid 121-106 home win against the Pacers on Monday. Gary Harris (minus-2.1 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) remains out but Paul Millsap (plus-1.0 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) and JaMychal Green (plus-0.5 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) are back in the lineup, which helps their overall depth. This will be extremely important against a surging team like the Hornets.

Nikola Jokic's extra aggressiveness when it comes to looking for his own shot has led to an MVP-caliber season, with averages of 27.3 points, 11.2 rebounds and 8.5 assists on 41.4 percent shooting from 3-point range. The Nuggets need more from Jamal Murray. He scored just 13 points on 5 of 27 shooting in his first two games after the All-Star break. Murray played a bit better against the Pacers, scoring 16 points on 6-for-13 from the field and a big game from him, particularly on offense, can help the Nuggets prevail at home.

Prediction

Bench play will be the key to this game. The Hornets are getting regular contributions off the bench from at least five players. Last Monday their five reserves combined for 42 points against the Kings, led by Graham and Miles Bridges and the Nuggets can't rely on Jokic to do it all. Denver is getting healthier but Jokic needs Murray and the rest of his teammates to step up significantly against a solid Hornets team that's playing extremely well. This is a tough test for the Hornets but they have enough firepower and depth to at least keep the game close.

NBA Pick: Hornets +6.5 (-110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

Hornets +6.5(-110)
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*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.