The Portland Trail Blazers keep finding ways to lose, while the Charlotte Hornets keep finding ways to either stay in games or win without their star. Could Damian Lillard lead Portland to a win, or will this be another unstoppable offensive showcase from Charlotte?
- Game: Charlotte Hornets (16-14) at Portland Trailblazers (11-18)
- Location: Moda Center
- Day/Time: Friday, 10 p.m. ET
- Television: N/A
- Blazers -1.5, Total: 228.5
Charlotte Hornets at Portland Trail Blazers
The Hornets Keep Finding a Way, and Ball Could Return Tonight
Two weeks ago, when LaMelo Ball entered health and safety protocols, few would have expected that the Charlotte Hornets would stay afloat. It’s become a trademark of theirs; staying in games against great competition, finding ways to score a ton of points regardless of who their opponent is, and often winning in situations where they’re short-handed.
Take Charlotte’s 130-127 win over the Atlanta Hawks on December 5. The Hornets only had 9 active players on their roster that night, on the road, against an Atlanta squad that plays their best basketball at State Farm Arena.
Against an above-average defense and with those intangibles working against them, the Hornets still found a way to edge out the home team. Charlotte shot 53.5% from the field and nearly 46% from beyond the arc; another spirited, offensive explosion for a team that was +7.5 underdogs heading into that contest.
The Hornets travel to Portland and, according to multiple reports, Ball is officially questionable, meaning there’s a chance he could suit up for his first game back in over 2 weeks. Whether he suits up, it sounds like the team isn’t worried.
In a post-game interview after a season-high 41 points in a victory over the Spurs Wednesday, Gordon Hayward talked about their offensive prowess, “’We just have so many weapons on the team,” Hayward said. ”So many guys can attack. When you get in the paint, and you’re looking to pass and get an open shot for somebody else, it just makes it really hard to guard us.”
The Fledgling Trail Blazers Seek a Win
The Portland Trail Blazers haven’t had the same fortune as the Hornets. Portland has lost 7 straight games, and their latest 3 losses came uncharacteristically at home. Front management controversy, injuries, and uninspired play continues to plague the Blazers, along with whispers surrounding Lillard’s future in Portland.
The 6-time All-Star is having a down year, averaging only 22 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. He’s only shooting 38.4% from the field, too. CJ McCollum is still nursing a collapsed lung after suffering a rib injury last week, setting the Blazers’ offense back even more.
The Blazers, once known as one of the more electric offenses in the NBA, are rated 18th in offensive rating heading into Friday night’s contest. The Hornets are 2nd in the NBA in offensive rating and 2nd overall in points per game (115.6). Can the Blazers keep up at home?
Two Bad Defenses Duke It Out at Moda Center
The line is interesting. Sportsbook is likely considering how desperate the Blazers are heading into this contest. They’re also at home, where they’ve won more games than they’ve lost (10-7), and Lillard and the Blazers’ offense should have an easier time scoring The Hornets are an offensive juggernaut but their defense isn’t quite up to par.
Charlotte ranks dead last in the NBA in defensive rating and in points allowed per game (116.4). The Blazers, on the other hand, aren’t much better. Portland ranks 27th in defensive rating and they’re 26th in points allowed per game (111.2). The best angle for an NBA free pick is on the total. According to TeamRankings.com, the Hornets are 18-11-1 to the over.
NBA spreads are constantly adjusting this year in a volatile market, and tonight the Hornets’ side looks like a discount. The Blazers don’t entice or excite anyone to wager on them from what they’ve shown the last 2 weeks.
Lillard is playing like he’s not as motivated, new coach Chauncey Billups can’t seem to figure out a scheme or style of play that works, and CJ McCollum, Lillard’s most trusted No. 2 scorer, remains sidelined.
Especially with the possibility that Ball returns, the Charlotte Hornets are confident and it’s unlikely they’ll be phased by Portland’s subpar defense.
Looking into player props when betting online probably isn’t a bad idea, either. Although it’s hard to estimate which Charlotte player will explode on a night-to-night basis, the Blazers’ offense is still predicated on Lillard’s output.
If there was ever a spot where Lillard could get in a rhythm and frequently score from beyond the arc, it’s tonight. If betting on the Hornets like me, a good way to hedge this game is by adding a Lillard points prop to your ticket.
In a game that should have little resistance from either defense, my money’s on the Hornets and Blazers to put up a ton of points and for Charlotte to keep proving they can out-score anyone.