NBA Picks: Where's The Betting Edge On Hornets vs. Heat Game 1?

Jason Lake

Sunday, April 17, 2016 12:00 PM GMT

They had identical regular-season records, but the NBA odds are giving the Miami Heat a little more love for Sunday's series opener against the Charlotte Hornets, so which is the right NBA Pick?

 

Jason's 2015-16 record as of April 16: 33-37-1 ATS, 6-3-1 Total
 

The NBA's Southeast Division turned out to be pretty good this year. Only one team (the 35-47 Orlando Magic) had a losing record; three teams tied for the division lead at 48-34, but it was the Miami Heat winning the Southeast title and the No. 3 seed in the East. The Charlotte Hornets had to settle for the No. 6 seed – which I'm sure they won't mind, after going into the 2015-16 campaign tied for last at +25000 on Bovada's NBA championship futures market.

The betting market might still be overlooking the Hornets. We've already picked them at a series price of +125, and it's very likely Charlotte will be our recommendation for Game 1 against the Heat this Sunday (5:30 p.m. ET, TNT). But are we already too late to the party? The Hornets are 4-point road dogs on the NBA odds board as we go to press, down from +4.5 at the open.


 

Bosh Spice
Well, if we give Miami (43-38-1 ATS) the requisite 3.5 points for home-court advantage, and if these two clubs are as equal as their records indicate, maybe there's still some value on Charlotte (42-39-1 ATS) for Sunday's series opener. Hoopheads, assemble~!

FiveThirtyEight (CARM-Elo): Miami –3
Basketball-Reference (SRS): Miami –2.64

How do you like them apples? Our usual gang of stat nerds thinks the Hornets performed better than Miami during the regular season. On top of that, let's not forget the Heat are without Chris Bosh (20.2 PER, +2.1 BPM), who reportedly may have told the team he won't be available for the playoffs, and Tyler Johnson (13.8 PER, +0.5 BPM), who could be ready for the second round if his shoulder heals in time – and Miami makes it that far.

 

Dance With Joe
Then again, these projections won't capture how useful Joe Johnson (15.2 PER, +0.8 BPM) has been to Miami since he secured his buyout from the Brooklyn Nets and signed up in late February. The Joe-fueled version of the Heat we'll see on Sunday is 16-8 SU and 13-11 ATS. Definitely playoff-worthy.

Ah, but that included a 109-106 loss to the Hornets on March 17 as 4.5-point home faves. Charlotte has been an absolute wrecking ball during the second half of the season, sporting an 18-6 SU and 13-11 ATS record since the beginning of March. And it does look like Nicolas Batum (15.6 PER, +2.0 BPM) will be available Sunday after missing some time down the stretch with a sprained left ankle. This is a very deep team with a lot of unsung talent supporting their one true All-Star, point guard Kemba Walker (20.8 PER, +4.0 BPM). Miami has the bigger names and the championship pedigree, but once the bench players come out for both clubs, Charlotte's advantage should be enough to make the Hornets the right NBA pick for Game 1.

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Free NBA Pick: Hornets +4.5 -105
Best Line Offered: at GT Bets