Mar 28th NBA Action: Atlanta Hawks @ Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte Hornets -5.0 vs Atlanta Hawks
Charlotte covered last night but fell short of the straight up win at the Washington Wizards' Verizon Center. The game required two overtimes and a Herculean effort from John Wall before the Wiz were able to definitively put away the Hornets (107-110). With Friday night's defeat, the Hornets losing streak increased to three straight and eight of their last ten, and any lingering hopes of a playoff run are somewhat diminished.
Meanwhile, the 55-17 Atlanta Hawks have already clinched the top spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and are preparing for a deep post-season run. To this point, the ENITRE Hawks starting five will sit out this game. While Jeff Teague is legitimately struggling with an ankle injury, the reason indicated in injury reports for the omission of Atlanta's other four primary players is "Rest".
This extreme lineup makeover, by a wide margin, trumps any funk the Hornets may have fallen into lately. Our Real Plus/Minus power ratings for this week (based on the work of ESPN and FiveThirtyEight) made an intact Atlanta team to be 1.1 points better than Charlotte at Time Warner Cable Arena tonight. However, when we account for the massive roster overhaul the Hawks roled out for tonight, Atlanta's advantage shrinks by a whopping 23 points, shifting favor decidedly to Charlotte.
[Note: Our power ratings methodology is based on weekly RPMs from FiveThirtyEight, while injury-related adjustments are based on ESPN's whole-season RPMs. Imperfect data availability necessitate this misalignment.]
As is shown above, the biggest detriment to the Hawks chance of covering Saturday owes to Kyle Korver's absence. Without their sharpshooter (and assuming Bazemore and Jenkins are Korver's backups), Atlanta is, on average, 9 points worse versus the number. Similarly, by this approach, the Hawks average spread probably shrinks by more than 5 points when each Paul Milsap or Jeff Teague are not present in Atlanta's lineup.
The Hornets though are not exempt from personnel change for this contest. Starting Small Forward, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, has been ruled out due to an ankle injury. If Jeff Taylor and P.J. Hairston inherit Kidd-Gilchrist's vacated minutes, Charlotte is about 4 points worse ATS. Such a swing might commonly be sufficient to alter the outcome of a game. However, given that no representative of the Hawks starting roster will be involved in tonight's action, our bias remains firmly with the Hornets this evening.