Golden State at Charlotte
Time: 7 PM CT, ESPN
Spread: GSW -5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Golden State Warriors have won its past four contests and eight of its past 10, but still trail the Houston Rockets by a half-game in the Western Conference standings. Steph Curry and crew now travel to Charlotte to face the 9-13 Hornets at 7 PM (CT) on ESPN. Golden State is 5-point favorites in the game, and the Hornets are 8-3 at home this season (despite a 1-10 mark on the road). The over/under is set at 215.5 points by NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
Golden State has been sensational on the road this season as winners of 11 of 14 thus far. The Dubs also boast the league’s second-best point differential of +11.3. In its recent win streak, Golden State has knocked off the L.A. Lakers, Orlando Magic, Miami Heat and New Orleans Pelicans. This is its first meeting with Charlotte in the 2017-18 season, and the league’s highest scoring team (118.5 points per game) should have little trouble scoring against the Hornets’ defense. Charlotte surrenders 106.4 points per game and has a negative differential of -1.0. The Hornets also have lost six of its past 10 games, and are currently three games behind the No. 8 seeded Indiana Pacers in the early playoff picture.
Prior to defeating the Orlando Magic last outing, the Hornets had dropped four straight games, too. In its victory over Orlando, the Hornets got 29 points and seven assists from star guard Kemba Walker, while Nicolas Batum chipped in a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Charlotte is a much tougher team at home, and Dwight Howard has made a difference this year for the Hive. Howard is averaging 15.1 points, 12.4 rebounds and a block per game in 29 minutes a night, while team leader Kemba Walker is averaging 22.7 points and 6.3 assists per game.
But more is needed from Batum. Batum has played just nine games due to starting the year injured, but at 10 points per game, far more is needed from the versatile swingman. He has led the Hornets in assists to Walker the past several seasons, but with Jeremy Lamb emerging as a valuable scoring 2-guard, Batum’s role has been a little muddled.
Second-year forward/center Frank Kaminsky is serviceable, but not great. The Hornets also are infrequently using lottery pick Malik Monk, who averages just 17 minutes per game and 7.5 points per night. There are sources of potential improvement on Charlotte’s roster, and it really cannot ask more of Walker. It needs a strong defensive effort on its homecourt to have any chance against the loaded Warriors.
Curry is having an MVP caliber season, for his part. The league’s top point man is averaging 26.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game while posting a team-best PER Of 27.6. Kevin Durant has been his usual efficient self, though perhaps unsensational at 24.6 points per game.
The Warriors have the most reason to be pleased with Klay Thompson, who has found his stroke after having a down season a year ago. Thompson is shooting 50 percent from the floor, 47 percent from three and 86 percent from the line— with a little improvement from the charity stripe he could enter the elusive 40/50/90 club.
Draymond Green has been solid, though his offensive contributions have been minimized somewhat. Even so, his seven assists per game are crucial as he is a lynchpin in the Warriors’ “Death lineup,” which features Green at the 5-spot despite his short stature. The Warriors just have so many ways they can hurt opponents, but Charlotte is a different team on its homeport and this game should be close as NBA oddsmakers anticipate.