NBA Picks: Take Hornets To Put Up A Good Fight vs. Pacers

Jason Lake

Friday, February 26, 2016 12:29 PM GMT

The Charlotte Hornets and Indiana Pacers are both making a concerted playoff push. Only one of them can beat the NBA odds when they meet Friday at the Fieldhouse.

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Feb. 25: 23-29-1 ATS, 5-1-1 Total

 

Are people done making fun of Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Hornets yet? Probably not. Jordan has been the lightning rod for this franchise ever since he bought a piece back in 2006. He did make some wacky decisions back then, but the last I checked, it was GM Rich Cho running the basketball operations. Since Cho was given his new powers in the summer of 2014, the Hornets have rebuilt and become viable playoff contenders in the East this year at 29-27 SU and 28-27-1 ATS.

Meanwhile, the Indiana Pacers (31-26 SU, 28-28-1 ATS) are also back in playoff position in the East after last year's nightmare season. Paul George has returned, rookie Myles Turner is kicking all kinds of ass, and the Pacers could end up with the No. 3 seed in the East when all is said and done. Or they could completely fall apart. We'll see how they fare in Friday's game (7:00 p.m. ET) against the Hornets; at press time, Indiana is laying three points at home on our NBA odds board, down from –4 at the open.

 

500 Myles
So it's been a month since we last looked at the Pacers, and wondered aloud why George (20.4 PER, +4.2 BPM) had been moved back to small forward after starting the year playing like an MVP at the 4-spot. Perhaps Turner (18.2 PER, –1.4 BPM) was the answer all along. He was elevated to the starting lineup on January 28; since then, Indiana is 8-4 SU and 5-6-1 ATS. Hmmm. Well, at least they're winning games.
I seem to recall some saying about how rookies aren't really rookies anymore once they get half a season under their belts. Turner is plus-2.4 since joining the starting lineup, compared to minus-5.3 as a reserve. His offense is down a bit, but his defense has improved, which might reflect his role playing alongside George. Indiana's thin bench probably wasn't doing Turner any favors, either. Speaking of which, guard Rodney Stuckey (12.3 PER, –2.3 BPM) might be able to make his return Friday after missing over six weeks with a bruised foot.

The Hornets have also stepped things up this past month at 10-4 SU and 9-5 ATS in their last 14 games. They really started turning it on when swingman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (17.2 PER, –1.2 BPM) made his season debut, but when MKG was only able to put in seven games before going back on the injured list, Charlotte swung a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies for Courtney Lee (11.8 PER, –0.8 BPM). His arrival gives us the incentive we need to keep the Hornets in our NBA picks this week. Get 'em before the spread drops even further, and may the sphere be with you.

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NBA Pick: Charlotte +3.5
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker