Mar 25th NBA Action: Brooklyn Nets @ Charlotte Hornets
Charlottte Hornets -3.5 vs Brooklyn Nets
Our Real Plus/Minus-based power ratings framework makes the #22-rated Hornets to be about 5 points better than the #24 Nets at Time Warner Cable Arena. As such, we are comfortable laying the 3.5 points chalk and backing the home team this evening.
Brooklyn will head to Charlotte somewhat deflated, as the Nets, from the position of 5-point favorites, were dealt a loss on their home floor Monday evening by a short-handed Boston Celtics squad. That setback ended a two game winning streak and resigned the Nets to a 5-7 record for the month of March (4-8 against-the-spread).
The Hornets will enter tonight's contest with a 7-6 month-to-date mark (both straight up and against the spread). While better than Brooklyn's results in March, Charlotte's record reflects their dropping four of their last five--including, most recently, a loss Monday to the Chicago Bulls as 7-point dogs.
However, Charlotte trails the Celtics by a single win for the coveted eighth playoff spot in the East. FiveThirtyEight gives the Hornets better than a 1-in-3 chance of advacing to play in the post-season, while Brooklyn's probability of moving on are less than half that. We think the quest for a playoff berth will doubly incentivize the Hornets to play hard tonight.
Also, consider that Al Jefferson played particularly poorly versus Chicago two nights ago (in 20 minutes, Jefferson managed 3 points on 1-7 from the floor, and committed 3 turnovers). We are certain he was quite dissatisfied with that lackluster performance and we look for a snapback game this evening for Big Al--perhaps akin to his output in early Marc, when these teams last met (Jefferson contributed 19 points on 8-16 shooting and collected 3 steals; as the away team, Charlotte beat Brooklyn easily, 115-91).
Bottom line: We like the Hornets is this spot, as Charlott's higher power rating, plus home court advantage this evening suggests the cover to us. Further, the Hornets enjoy tailwinds tonight formed by the motivation to push for their thrid playoff seed in the last ten years, and a star player coming off on an embarrassing performance.
Al Jefferson is listed as probable as of the time of this writing.