Charlotte Hornets at Golden State Warriors
Time: 9:30 PM CT (CSN Bay Area)
Spread: GSW -8.5
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Golden State Warriors had another close call with the Denver Nuggets, shockingly so. The Warriors prevailed 111-108, however, and it will look to win its third straight hosting the Charlotte Hornets tonight. NBA oddsmakers favor the Warriors by 8.5 points in the game which will air at 9:30 PM Central on NBA League Pass.
The Warriors are showing signs of mortality, lately, though. Stephen Curry saw just 14 minutes in his return from a shin injury and he is listed as questionable for this game. In the win over Denver he shot 2 of 6 from the floor for five points and four assists, causing his scoring average to dip below 30 for the first time this season. The Warriors are showing now how reliant it is on Curry’s brilliance.
The Dubs needed overtime to take the Nuggets down, getting big games from Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Green recorded his sixth triple-double of the season with 29 points, 14 assists and 17 rebounds. Thompson knocked down 11 of 27 from the field en route to 26 points, three assists and seven boards. Both Green and Thompson need to be at their absolute best to compensate for the lack of Steph.
It would also help if the Warriors could coax some production out of 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala and center Andrew Bogut. The pair combined for just 11 points last game, and both are capable of putting the ball in the bucket. The Warriors did get 15 points from Ian Clark off the bench, but at this point Golden State has to work all of its depth.
It all sounds eerily pessimistic to speak of holes in a 31-2 Warriors team. But it is simply to say there are holes, signs of weakness, and all are concurrent with Curry’s injury occurrence. The Warriors are, after all, chasing NBA history and the Chicago Bulls ’72’ win mark for a season.
Even with all this as it is, the Warriors are still 15-0 at home this season and the Charlotte Hornets are a mediocre team, at best. The 8.5 points spread though still seems a big high considering that the Warriors are without 30 points coming from Curry. Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli are both expected back. But the Warriors may still be without Leandro Barbosa and James McAdoo. It is a good thing the roster truly does have 10-plus player depth.
Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum are both having good seasons for the Hornets. Walker is posting 19.2 points and five assists per game while averaging a PER of 20.0. Batum has shown an increased appetite for scoring this season, showing more offense than anyone may have known he had while in Portland.
Nic is now playing as he does during French National team games, and his 16.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and five assists per game all represent career highs for Batum. There is also the fact that he can take over games with defensive plays, though his 1.61 steals/blocks even fail to tell the whole story. He is expected to miss this game with a toe injury, which really hurts Charlotte’s chances.
The biggest disappointment for the Hornets has been Al Jefferson, who has underachieved all season long and already has been suspended for marijuana usage. It certainly is not a performance enhancer, as he is posting just 12.5 points and six rebounds per game in 25 minutes a night.
Getting the “old Big Al” back would greatly enhance the Hornets prospects of an unexpected playoff run. He is currently rehabbing a knee injury which will leave him on the shelf for at least another month.
But it still hurts that the Hornets are without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for the season.
One would suspect that when he returns next year and combines with Batum, that the Hornets have an elite defense. For the time being, it is just finding itself functioning a lot better without the toxic Lance Stephenson who was dealt to the L.A. Clippers over the offseason.
Charlotte is still several pieces away from contention, but the fact that one of those pieces is the injured Kidd-Gilchrist gives Hornets fans a tangible and real hope.