NBA Picks: Batum's Status To Influence Hornets-Wizards Outcome

Matthew Jordan

Saturday, December 19, 2015 7:09 PM GMT

The Washington Wizards are surely glad to be home after a disappointing 1-3 road trip through the Western Conference. They host a much-improved Charlotte team on Saturday night, with the game a pick'em on 5Dimes' NBA odds with a total of 205.5.

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NBA Picks: Under 206, If Batum plays, go Charlotte -1.5. If not, take the Wizards +1.5. 

Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

 

Hornets Win Batum Trade
Charlotte (15-10) has been a pleasant surprise and it made one of the best trades of the offseason in acquiring Nic Batum from Portland. Batum has been probably the team's best player, averaging 16.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists. He's going to likely get max money this offseason as a free agent, but the Hornets can pay him more than anyone else.

Batum missed Thursday's home game vs. Toronto with an illness, but the Hornets won anyway 109-99 in overtime. So we were treated to some "Linsanity" in that game as Jeremy Lin started in Batum's place and went off with 35 points, five rebounds and four assists. Kemba Walker added 27 points. Batum has been upgraded to probable for this one.

The Hornets have been without their best big man, All-Star Al Jefferson, since Nov. 29 due to a calf injury. He actually was cleared to return from that on Wednesday but Jefferson had to begin serving a five-game suspension for violating the drug policy in the NBA. Jefferson had to be on the active roster before he could start serving that. He's averaging 13.7 points and 6.4 rebounds.

Charlotte is 14-10-1 against the spread on NBA odds and 12-11-2 'over/under.'

 

Wittman's Job In Jeopardy?
How does Washington head coach Randy Wittman still have a job? Some people thought the Wizards might reach the Eastern Conference Finals this season -- as long as they avoided Cleveland until then -- off last year's conference semifinals loss to Atlanta. Washington was supposed to have the East's best backcourt in John Wall and Bradley Beal.

Well, the Wizards are just 10-14 and 37-44 in their last 81 regular-season games overall. The team looked rather disinterested in the final two games of that just-concluded road trip, losing 112-95 in Memphis and then 114-95 in San Antonio. Washington has lost seven games this season by at least 14 points. It has allowed at least 100 points in a game 17 times compared to 24 all of last season.

To be fair to Wittman, the Wizards have been hit hard by injuries. Beal, averaging 19.8 points and 4.7 rebounds, has played 17 games thus far and not since Dec. 9 due to the beginnings of a stress reaction in his lower right fibula. Beal is likely out at least another week. Big man Nene has played just 12 games and not since Nov. 27 due to a calf injury. He's not likely back soon and has been disappointing when on the court. Wall played through a sprained ankle almost all of November.

The latest injury was to starting small forward Otto Porter Jr. He really blossomed in last year's playoffs and slid into a starting role when Paul Pierce left in free agency. Porter left the Spurs loss in the third quarter with a left thigh injury. He's questionable for this game. The No. 3 overall pick in 2013 is averaging 11.8 points and 5.4 rebounds, easily his best season.

It's not clear who Wittman will start in Beal's spot Saturday. It had been largely Garrett Temple, but Wittman went with Gary Neal against San Antonio. Neal had eight points in 22 minutes, while Temple played only 11 minutes. Jared Dudley probably starts if Porter sits. The bench will be really thin.

The Wizards are 11-13 ATS on NBA picks and 15-7-2 O/U.

Here you can find our NBA Picks of the Day

Season Series
On Nov. 25 in Charlotte, the Hornets were 3.5-point favorites at sportsbooks (total of 210) and they beat Washington 101-87. The Hornets allowed a franchise-low six fourth-quarter points and closed on an unthinkable 25-2 run. Wittman should have been fired right then. Batum had 16 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds, while Jefferson had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Wall and Beal were a combined 12-for-34 from the floor for 31 points.  Porter had only three points. Washington shot 35.6 percent from the field. Last year, the Hornets were 1-1 at Washington, with the loss coming in double overtime.

 

Prediction
If Batum plays, take the Hornets. If not, take the Wizards. Go 'under' regardless. The Hornets are 7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings. The 'under' is 8-1 in the previous nine.