NBA Picks: Hornets Defense Leads To 'Under' Matchup vs. Raptors

Mark Lathrop

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 1:56 PM GMT

Tuesday, Apr. 5, 2016 1:56 PM GMT

With multiple starters in question for tonight's game between Toronto and Charlotte, our NBA handicapper looks at the total to find wagering value and make his Tuesday NBA Pick.

Toronto Raptors Preview
With the Toronto Raptors (51-25) all but locked up as the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference, they host an ailing Charlotte Hornets (44-32) team that could reasonably end up in a range of 3rd to 8th seed in the conference as well. These teams have already met twice this season, with each home team winning by a margin of exactly 10 points. With the Hornets in the midst of a stretch of seven games out of eight on the road, they find themselves listed at 5.5-point underdogs in this game at books such as Pinnacle. The O/U total has opened at 202 at BetOnline as part of the NBA odds boards.

Charlotte is coming off of a 103-112 loss in Cleveland as a 6.5-point underdog while the total went over the consensus of 202.5. Even though they lost the game, it was the sixth matchup in a row that the Hornets had scored 100 points or more. The Hornets have been hot as of late, going 15-5 straight up in their last 20 games while climbing the Eastern Conference standings.

They are missing some important cogs going into the playoffs though, with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out for the season. “MKG”, the Hornet’s 2nd overall pick in 2012, came back to the starting lineup in late January, just to make it through only seven games before tearing a labrum in his shoulder. The Hornets went 5-2 with MKG in the lineup and allowed teams to score much less than their season average – including impressive wins against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, and Indiana.

 

Charlotte Hornets Overview
From a handicapping standpoint, MKG was never in a lineup for Charlotte when they played Toronto this year, so that simplifies things a bit. Who was in the lineups though for Toronto is a little bit of concern. With Toronto locked into the #2 seed they have started to rest their starters down the stretch. In particular, the player we need to watch out for is all-pro point guard, Kyle Lowry.

Lowry sat out against the San Antonio Spurs in Toronto’s last game, a 102-95 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. If Lowry does not play tonight there would be an entire week off for the star point guard. That may seem ideal, but Lowry himself has stated that rest at this point won’t help him as he is determined to play through the injury anyway. Call it what you will, but Lowry is concerned about being rusty going into the playoffs.

Must Read: Handicapping New Playoffs Blood

Final Analysis
With each team’s lineup being a bit of a mystery coming into this game, I’m circling back to motivation and the Hornets. Unfortunately for Charlotte, they lose tiebreakers to the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, and Atlanta Hawks. They will need every win they can get down the stretch to avoid a road series against a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers or these same Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs.

That motivation could well play itself out on defense, as even though these teams split games on the year Charlotte has held Toronto to under 40% shooting from the floor in each of those games.

It’s likely Charlotte’s scoring streak of 100 points or more that has pushed this total up to it’s current state. When these teams met earlier this year the totals were set at 193 and 196, respectively. With starters likely to be missing on one side or the other, I like a less efficient offense to show up on one side. I’m taking under 202 at BetOnline in this game as one of my NBA picks, as I expect a superior defensive effort by the Hornets tonight.

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Free NBA Pick: 'Under' 202
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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