Heat vs. Hornets Pick NBA – Jan 21st

We got back to our winning ways last night with a little help from the San Antonio Spurs who got the easy win and narrow cover over the Denver Nuggets. The win was the Spurs fourth in a row, but with seemingly every good team in the West winning this week, they remain in seventh position and three games in the loss column behind the Rockets for the all-important fourth slot and home court advantage in the first round. With all eight playoff teams on pace to win 50 games and the Thunder looking great now that they are healthy (and in the ninth spot) it is going to be a furious three months of jockeying for position in the West.

There are some great games in the Association tonight after a few slow nights, highlighted by the Warriors hosting Houston and the Thunder heading into Washington in an interesting cross-conference matchup. And then of course you also have the Knicks and Sixers! Cover your eyes Jahlil Okafor, cover your eyes…

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Today’s Free Picks:

Miami Heat at Charlotte Hornets -5.5 (Total: 186)

The Charlotte Hornets have been nearly unbeatable in 2015, coming a long way to erase a nightmare start and pull within a half game of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. They have a huge opportunity to solidify their playoff intentions tonight hosting Miami. Kemba Walker has gotten a ton of attention of late, as he has averaged nearly 30 points per game during the 7-1 streak. But it is the defensive prowess the Hornets have exhibited that is making the biggest difference. Most impressively they’ve done a lot of this damage with Kemba and Al Jefferson banged up and Lance Stevenson nursing injuries and being in and out of the lineup. Kemba and Jefferson are expected to play tonight, and that is good news for Charlotte.

Miami, despite having plenty of talent, appears to be hell-bent on falling out of the playoffs altogether. They are 4-6 over their last ten games with a home loss to Orlando and a loss at Indiana. They appear to play well against teams they should beat mostly, but rarely do they jump up and knock off a team of note.

So the big question is, which team is Charlotte? I am going to wager that they are closer to the team we have seen the last three weeks and more like the team most expected them to be heading in to this season. Many thought they could challenge to be a top four team in the East. That ship has sailed after a disastrous start, but they certainly can still salvage a playoff campaign and be a team no one wants to see in the opening round.

I like them to handle their business tonight at home. The Heat played last night, and old teams on the road on the back end of a back-to-back are almost always a lousy wager. Take the home team, the better team and the fresher team; all of them are the Hornets.

Free Pick: Charlotte Hornets -5.5

Chris Scheeren / Author