Charlotte at Phoenix
Time: 2 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: CHA -6
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Charlotte Hornets have won two-straight and six of its past 10 to surge to 22-29 and pull within 3.5 games of No. 8 Philadelphia. The Hornets head to face a woeful Suns team as 6-point favorites in the affair, which will televise at 2 PM (CT) on NBA League Pass. The over/under for the game is set at 219 points according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
Charlotte scored two bit wins with a 123-110 win over the Atlanta Hawks and a 133-126 win over the Indiana Pacers. Kemba Walker put on a show in the win over Charlotte, out-dueling Victor Oladipo in scoring 41 points on 11 of 22 shooting including 14 of 14 from the free throw line. Walker also had nine assists in posting a +8 point differential in his 42 minutes of play. Charlotte led by five entering the fourth quarter, and hung on to get its second-straight win.
Charlotte faces Denver, Portland, Utah, Toronto and Orlando over its next-five games following tonight’s stint. All of those games save the Raptors contest are on the road, so Charlotte will have its work cut out for itself to get to the All-Star break still within striking distance of a .500 mark. The Hornets have been led by Walker in scoring in nearly all of its recent wins, but the Hornets need to find a way to get Nicolas Batum much more involved if this team is to even consider being a postseason threat to any of the top seeds it would potentially draw.
The Suns really do not have a lot going for them outside of the strong play of one Devin Booker. Booker leads the team in scoring with 24.7 points per game, to go along with his 4.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists per night, but the former Kentucky Wildcat was snubbed for an All-Star selection, since Phoenix has been so poor this season. T.J. Warren has stepped up into something of a star, too, with 19.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.63 steals/blocks per game, but outside of this dynamic duo, the Suns have precious little.
To be sure, Phoenix is not necessarily short on talent, but most of its rotation is comprised of young, and unproven, players. Greg Monroe was obtained for the cost of Eric Bledsoe, but that downgraded the talent while pitting one of the worst defensive big men on a team that already struggles immensely on that end of the court.
Kansas product Josh Jackson has struggled some as a rookie, and second-year forwards Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss are both slumping, and neither seems ready to be an NBA starter yet.
Alex Len has a clear role as a defensive 5, but with so many perimeter assignments being blown, his job has been that much harder in the paint.
The Suns just have a wealth of issues to address, but for the meantime, it has been a pleasure watching Booker excel and wondering what could be if Phoenix added some veteran leadership to help him corral the existing talent on this roster.