Charlotte at Sacramento
Time: 4 PM CT (NBA TV)
Spread: CHA -2.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Charlotte Hornets have been mired in struggles as winners of just one of its past 10 games. Charlotte now sits nine games below .500, but it will have a chance to get back on track on an NBA TV televised game at 4 PM at Sacramento.
The Hornets are just 8-20 on the road this season, but the Kings recently traded franchise center DeMarcus Cousins and are a team sheerly bereft of talent or major scoring options. Even this being the case, the Kings are just 2.5 point underdogs against Charlotte as it looks to improve to 14-15 at home with a win.
Sacramento has remarkably won six of its past 10 games, and is just one game out of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. Though the Kings are eight games below .500, that final spot in the West is wide-open with New Orleans and Portland also vying for it. Denver maintains a one-game lead and recently acquired Mason Plumlee, but the Kings could make a real statement by securing that last playoff spot after trading away Cousins. It seems like a long shot to say the minimum, but Vivek Randavive bet heavily on Buddy Hield. He even anointed Hield as the “next Stephen Curry,” and for as much as that is a reach, he did perform well in his first games a King, scoring 16 points off the bench as Sacto defeated the Nuggets 116-100.
The biggest standout in that game was a guy who is still trying to establish his NBA career: Willie Cauley-Stein. The second-year forward from Kentucky had 29 points on 14 of 22 shooting while also grabbing 10 rebounds (three offensive). Cauley-Stein finished +18 for his 35 minutes of play, and the Kings bench produced a total of 72 points in the victory. As to what Sacramento does with its starting lineup, it is tough to guess.
Its three leading scorers all came off the bench in the win over Denver, but this was also immediately following the trade. One might expect Tyreke Evans, Hield or Cauley-Stein all to start, but it could be that the Kings continue to roll with the veteran Anthony Tolliver as the starting 4-man.
The Kings already lost Rudy Gay and Matt Barnes for the season, which has pressed Sacto into even giving minutes to rookie Skal Labissiere. There are a glut of unproven options on Sacramento’s roster and even after Langston Galloway is fully integrated, there will be plenthy of minutes available for Ty Lawson, Ben McLemore and Hield at the guard spots. Sacramento is something of a mess, but it could all end up working out far better than expected with guys that are all eager to prove they belong in the NBA.
Charlotte has lost its past five games with losses to Houston, L.A. Clippers, Philadelphia, Toronto and most recently a 114-108 loss to the Detroit Pistons. Kemba Walker’s play had fallen off badly, but he is showing signs of getting his rhythm back. Essentially, 2-guard Nicolas Batum had functioned largely as the primary playmaker with Walker both lacking assertiveness and having his struggles. Batum has kept Charlotte afloat, but the Hornets are in need of wins to get back into the Eastern Conference Playoff picture.
Charlotte has to complete four more Western Conference road games following this afternoon’s contest against the Clippers, Lakers, Suns and Nuggets. With Charlotte struggling as it is, it is tough to imagine that being a 3-2 West Coast trip, but that is really what the Hornets need to keep its chances alive this season. Kemba Walker had 34 points last outing and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was a game-changer on the glass 14 boards, but the Hornets are asking Batum to do too much on a nightly basis.
The former Trail Blazer is seeing 35 minutes a night and averaging 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists, while Walker’s once-high scoring average has dipped to a humble 22.7 points per game. In order for Charlotte to revitalize its postseason hopes, it has to get more from Walker as its primary star and best talent.