Washington Wizards (25-19) at Charlotte Hornets (17-25)
We dropped a head-scratcher last night when we backed the best team in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics, at home, against the New Orleans Pelicans. Anthony Davis went completely nuts once again as he dropped 45 points and 16 boards. The other big man in the Big Easy, Demarcus Cousins, also had a strong game with 19 points and 15 rebounds.
Cousins hit multiple shots down the stretch where he seemingly just tossed the ball wildly at the hoop that ended up going in, and they were the difference in this one. The Pelicans forced overtime and took over in the extra period and picked up the huge upset win on the road.
This goes to show you that when the Pelicans have both of their big men playing well at the same time, that they can beat any team, anywhere. Nobody is going to want to play this team in the first round if they happen to sneak into the playoffs. Today we will break down the matchup between the Washington Wizards and the Charlotte Hornets.
The Washington Wizards will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to face the Hornets Wednesday night. The Wizards find themselves a half a game back of a surging Miami Heat team in the Southeast Division and need a win to keep pace with a Miami team that suddenly looks like they have figured out how to win games.
The Hornets need to turn it around in a big way if they are going to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference this year. Currently, Charlotte is five games back of Detroit for the eight seed and final playoff spot in the East. The Hornets are -1.5-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set at 214 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:00 PM PST from the Spectrum Center.
The Washington Wizards are in a strange place at the moment. They have the talent of a top-four seed in the East, but they don’t have the wins. They have seen a Miami Heat team that nobody had expected much out of this season, pass them for the division lead and they currently occupy the fifth seed.
The Wizards have a very real chance of passing the Cleveland Cavaliers who are in free fall at the moment and if they get their act together and win their division could end up in the three seed, a nice place for them to be. They absolutely have to win games like this one tonight if they want a real chance at that top three seed.
The Charlotte Hornets are a bit of a mess this season. They have a bunch of mismatched pieces that were never going to work, and I am not sure where this team is headed in the future. Kemba Walker is a nice piece but after improving every year of his career, he seems to have leveled off some this season. His scoring is down, rebounding is down, and his three-point shooting isn’t what it used to be.
They brought in the rotting corpse of Dwight Howard in the offseason, and that move has actually worked out as well as it ever was going to as Howard has been resurgent this season. The aging big man that likes to spend most of the game panning for the camera and goofing off rather than focusing on his team winning, is having a decent year. Howard is going for 15 and 12 a game, but he clearly isn’t here for the long haul as he is getting older by the minute.
This leaves the Hornets with a point guard that has topped out at decent, a center that is going to retire any day, and a bunch of side pieces that you aren’t ever going to be able to build around. The future ain’t too bright in Charlotte.
NBA road games are always tough. The home team is always going to play a little better than they should. That being said, on paper, this looks like a mismatch. Washington is the much better team with a lot more to play for. Mid- January games are where the teams that are going to make the playoffs start to ramp up the intensity, and the teams that aren’t, start laying down.
Charlotte wasn’t any good when they were trying to win games early in the season, as they have a losing record at home. I doubt they will be any better now that their season is basically done.
The Wizards are coming off a day off and haven’t played a game on the road since January 5th. They should be well rested and ready to play tonight. The Hornets are starting what is one of their longest homestands of the year at five games, and if they don’t post a winning record in that stretch, they can pretty much pack it up at this point.
Give me the Washington Wizards on the road getting 1.5-points in a minor upset tonight.