A couple of Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls will do battle in the Queen City on Tuesday night. If the season ended today, both the Brooklyn Nets and the Charlotte Hornets would be in the play-in tournament. Charlotte would take on the Raptors in Toronto in the 7-vs.-8 game, while the Nets would host the Hawks in the 9-vs.-10 affair.
Needless to say, being the No. 9 seed with a sub-.500 record is not where the Nets thought they’d ever be at the beginning of the season. However, Brooklyn does still have enough time to right the ship. Kevin Durant returned last week from his knee injury, while Kyrie Irving may be cleared to play in home games before too long.
The Nets and Hornets are tied in the standings at 32-33 apiece, so the winner of tonight’s clash will emerge in sole possession of eighth place. BetOnline’s oddsmakers slightly favor the Nets, who are currently listed as three-point favorites in a game with a massive 239.5 over/under.
The Nets opened as the betting favorites to win the championship this season at most NBA betting sites. Brooklyn retained that favored status through most of the first half of the campaign before things suddenly took a turn for the worse. Irving missed the first half of the season after essentially getting kicked off the team. Durant went down in January with a knee issue. James Harden voiced his displeasure with the team’s situation shortly thereafter. He was promptly shipped to Philadelphia in exchange for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Andre Drummond ahead of last month’s trade deadline.
So, the Nets have taken the scenic route to get to where they are now. And, they’re still not a finished product. Simmons has no timetable for his return as a result of some conditioning issues. At this point, you have to wonder whether the former Rookie of the Year will play at all before the playoffs.
Kevin Durant on reaching the 25k point club:
“I should be at 30 right now to be honest.”
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) March 6, 2022
Brooklyn comes into tonight’s game in Charlotte riding a four-game losing streak. That includes a heartbreaker on Sunday afternoon in Boston, though, to be fair, the Nets haven’t faced the easiest schedule of late. Each of the Nets’ last six games have come against likely playoff teams, including two games apiece against Boston and Toronto.
Tonight’s game will mark just the fifth time all year the Nets will have Durant and Irving in the lineup together. So far, Brooklyn is 2-2 with both of their remaining superstars in the lineup together.
Given their middling record and all of their preseason expectations, it comes as little surprise to see the Nets ranked among the worst against-the-spread bets in the NBA so far this year. In fact, they’re the worst. The Nets are just 24-39-2 ATS on the year, which means they’ve covered the spread in just over 38 percent of their games. That includes just two successful covers in their last seven games overall.
LaMarcus Aldridge will miss tonight’s game for Brooklyn with a hip injury, which likely opens up some backup center minutes for Nicolas Claxton. Cam Thomas, a high-scoring rookie, is a game-time decision with a back issue.
While the Nets had their sights set on lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy, the Hornets would have been happy with a mere playoff berth at the beginning of the season. It’s safe to assume that goal hasn’t changed. James Borrego’s squad has also endured its fair share of ups and downs. Unfortunately, there have been far more downs than ups of late, though the Hornets have won two straight coming into this one.
Charlotte is just 4-10 since the beginning of February. Only the Rockets, Nets, Pacers, and Knicks have been less successful in that stretch. The primary issue all season for this team has been defense. Though the Hornets have improved to 21st in defensive rating, they have spent the majority of the season ranked among the most porous defensive clubs in the league.
LaMelo Ball is the straw that stirs the Hornets’ drink. The second-year guard earned his first career All-Star nomination this season. It’s safe to assume it won’t be his last, either. Ball is averaging 19.7 points, 7.3 assists, and 6.9 rebounds for Charlotte, along with stellar 37 percent shooting from three-point country. The Hornets are also getting a career year out of Miles Bridges, who is averaging nearly 20 points per game while logging north of 36 minutes a night.
Trae Young- changed the entire Atlanta Hawks organization
Ja Morant- changed the entire Memphis Grizzlies organization
LaMelo Ball- changed the entire Charlotte Hornets organization
.. culture setters
— Ben Stinar (@BenStinar) March 1, 2022
Charlotte hasn’t played quite as well since Gordon Hayward went down with another long-term injury last month. Hayward’s absence takes one of their better perimeter defenders out of the mix. So far, they’ve struggled to replicate that two-way production. Cody Martin and Kelly Oubre Jr. have been thrust into larger roles as a result, but neither is quite as impactful as Hayward on either end of the floor.
The Hornets have fared quite well against losing teams this season, with a record of 21-9 against sub-.500 sides. They haven’t enjoyed nearly as much success against good teams, however, with a mediocre 11-24 mark against teams at .500 or better. The Nets are a sub-.500 team, record-wise, but it’s fair to assume that wouldn’t be the case had they been able to stay healthy.
Hayward will remain out of the lineup tonight for Charlotte. Jalen McDaniels (questionable) and James Bouknight are the only other names on the Hornets’ injury report ahead of this one.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Charlotte Hornets NBA Game Pick
Neither of these teams is playing all that well these days, but something has to give tonight. The Nets are one of the only teams in the league that has actually fared better on the road than at home. Perhaps the Irving situation has a little something to do with that. Brooklyn is 19-15 on the road compared to just 13-18 at Barclays Center. The Hornets are a game over .500 at home with a mark of 16-15 at Spectrum Center.
Charlotte’s rickety defense will presumably struggle to contain the Durant/Irving tandem in this one. KD has looked no worse for the wear after returning from his knee injury, while Kyrie has played exceptionally well despite his status as a part-time player.
This will be the second of three meetings between the teams on the year. Charlotte won the first one by 16 points in Brooklyn back in November, but I expect the Nets to flip the script on the road tonight. Take the Nets to win and cover the three-point margin in Charlotte.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Charlotte Hornets Betting Recap:
- Oddsmaker: BetOnline
- Moneylines: Brooklyn Nets -152, Charlotte Hornets +132
- Spread: Brooklyn Nets -3 (-112), Charlotte Hornets +3 (-108)
- Over/Under: Over 239.5 points (-110), Under 239.5 points (-110)
- Prediction: Brooklyn Nets -3 (-112)