Picks and Predictions for Hornets vs. Pelicans: Hornets Get Stung by Pels Stoppers

Picks and Predictions for Hornets vs. Pelicans: Hornets Get Stung by Pels Stoppers

In the final weeks of the season, the New Orleans Pelicans are feeling the heat. Despite their current Western Conference seed of 12, NOLA is only two games back of the No. 6 seed and only a half-game out of the play-in tournament.

That puts more emphasis on tonight’s game against the lowly Charlotte Hornets at home. Also, this is why the Pelicans are laying as many as nine points on Thursday’s NBA odds board.

Charlotte ended a losing streak of four games with a win over Indiana in their most recent game and will be playing away from home for only the fourth time in their last 13 contests. In the Big Easy, New Orleans has a +5.3 net rating and a 20-16 record against the spread this season.

All of my best NBA picks and predictions for the March 23 matchup between the Hornets and the Pelicans are laid out below, including a detailed analysis of the spread and Over/Under.

Hornets vs Pelican’s picks and predictions

The Hornets’ victory over the Indiana Pacers on Monday was their 23rd of the season, putting them behind the pace of their fellow tanking teams in the NBA’s cellar: Detroit, San Antonio, and Houston.

With a 21-point deficit at halftime against Indiana, Charlotte appeared destined for its fifth consecutive defeat. However, the Pacers’ carelessness with the ball led to 21 Hornets points and a 115-109 victory for the Hornets.

When compared to their previous season high of 117 points on February 27, the 115 points scored were a huge offensive outburst. Charlotte has been scoring just 102.8 points per game since then, good for 30th in offensive rating and effective field goal rate.

The 108.5-point team total for tonight’s game is a tall order for the Hornets. Not only is this team’s first trip away from home in two weeks, but it also travels to New Orleans to take on a Pelicans squad that is fighting for playoff positioning.

The Pelicans have a defensive rating of 112.2 over their last 10 games, putting them in the top 10 of all NBA teams this season. It would be a huge boon if the Hornets’ offense could improve by even a fraction. Their opponents are averaging just 109.5 points per game on 46.3% shooting.

The Hornets have the NBA’s worst perimeter shooting percentage and therefore rely heavily on shots from the paint, where they rank eighth in scoring. This domestic output has dropped significantly from February’s 54.6 PITP to March’s 47.8 PITP. The Pelicans have tightened up on the interior this month, allowing just 47.2 points in the paint to their opponents over the course of 10 games. This includes allowing just 32 and 34 points in the paint in the most recent two games.

Combining this with NOLA’s methodical approach on offense, which has slowed to a pace rating of 97.55 in March, will result in fewer opportunities for the Hornets’ terrible offense. They also won’t receive a free 35-point bonus due to turnovers.

Scores of 82, 104, and 108 have been posted by Charlotte at home against elite defensive rating and low pace teams like Philadelphia and Cleveland. It will be difficult for the Hornets to score points tonight in New Orleans.

Hornets vs. Pelicans spread analysis

Yesterday evening, New Orleans opened as low as -7, and by Thursday afternoon, the spread had grown to as high as -9.

The Pelicans are vying for a spot in the play-in tournament and thus have something to play for in the regular season’s final weeks. A slow start to the post-break schedule saw New Orleans win just one of its first five games back, but the team has since gone 4-3 SU, in part due to the easier competition.

Charlotte is included in this group. The Hornets have been terrible on offense this month, posting a 3-7 record against the spread (ATS) and a 4-6 record against the spread (SU). They are last in the league in advanced rating and effective field goal rate. In those 10 games, they’ve scored 103 points or less just once, and now they’re traveling to New Orleans to take on a Pelicans team that takes great pride in its defense.

New Orleans is currently eighth in the league in defensive rating and has stepped up its game this month, again in part because of its weaker opponents. Pelicans head coach Willie Green has his team playing more aggressively and attacking the basket in the past two games, scoring 52 and 58 points in the paint, respectively, in wins over Houston and San Antonio. The Pelicans’ offensive efforts have been inconsistent since the All-Star break.

Charlotte is allowing an average of 54 points in the paint against this month, good for 27th in the NBA, and they don’t have their starting center, Mark Williams, due to a thumb injury. The Hornets have also struggled to get rebounds, placing in the bottom third of the league.

Hornets vs. Pelicans Over/Under Analysis

As of Thursday afternoon, the Over/Under had risen from its opening price of 225.5 to a high of 226.5 before falling back to its opening price.

Given the Hornets’ offensive struggles, this total is on the lower end of the Pelicans’ recent games. The Hornets need help scoring, but their pace of play has also slowed since the All-Star break, dropping to 99.35 from 101.88 before the break.

The Hornets have recently faced some teams with methodical attacks, including Cleveland (twice), Philadelphia, New York, and Detroit. Since the all-star break, New Orleans has been one of the slowest-paced teams, ranking 20th; in the last 10 games, they’ve slowed down even more (97.55).

Three consecutive Unders for NOLA backers and a 3-12 Over/Under record in their last 15 games dating back to February 13 reflect the effectiveness of their offense and defense. Looking to bet on this game? Check out online NBA betting sites. The Hornets’ 4-11 O/U record in that span is similar to the Heat’s, and the team has gone under in each of its last two games.

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