Indiana Pacers @ Charlotte Hornets – Time Warner Cable Arena at 00:00
It is early in the season, but both the Charlotte Hornets and Indiana Pacers are expected to be amongst the Eastern Conference Play Off picture and both have made moves to earn a higher Seed than last season. Both ended up narrow First Round losers and it is the Charlotte Hornets who come into this game with the winning record.
[expand title=”Read More…” swaptitle=”Hide” trigpos=”below” rel=”star-highlander” ]
The Pacers might have had the same if they were able to take their home form on the road, but that has not been possible so far with some poor Defensive efforts in those road games. That has seen Indiana give up an average of 115 points per game on the road and they have had issues in their new era away from the Frank Vogel time as Head Coach when Defense was the main foundation for the Pacers success.
Strong Defensive foundations have helped the Hornets to their 4-1 record to begin the season although they have been given a hand by the schedule which has seen Charlotte take on some of the weaker teams in the NBA. Their sole loss came to the Boston Celtics at home, but they have been solid defensively and winning the rebound battle will likely give them an edge in this game.
The Hornets have also produced decent numbers coming off the bench which is another key element to the NBA games and Indiana have had issues when they have brought their starters out. Paul George will likely avoid a suspension for being ejected from the last game when he accidentally kicked the ball into a spectator’s face, but I think Charlotte might match up well with the Pacers at this moment and I like them to cover this number.
Charlotte are 7-1-1 against the spread in the last nine against Indiana and I like them to extend that number.
Handicap Betting Pick: Charlotte Hornets – 3.5 Points at 1.91 with Pinnacle
Miami Heat @ Oklahoma City Thunder – Chesapeake Energy Arena – 01:00
I am not sure where I really stand with the Oklahoma City Thunder as a team considering they have an impressive win over the LA Clippers and a blow out loss to the Golden State Warriors under their belt. It does look clear that they will go as far as Russell Westbrook will take them, but perhaps the Thunder have a little more about them than the losses of Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka might have suggested.
They are facing another team that have been in the Championship mix in recent years, but one that is most definitely in a transitional period. It is only three years since the Miami Heat would have been able to roll out Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James here, but all three players are no longer active for them with two moved on.
It won’t surprise anyone that the Heat have had some mixed results to open the season, but the concern in recent games has to be losing the rebounding battle. Hassan Whiteside can’t do it all himself and is going to have a big match up with Steven Adams which decide so much about this game, and it does look like the Thunder are comfortable enough running their Offense through Russell Westbrook compared with Miami who are a little inconsistent.
The key to this game could be Oklahoma City’s Defense against the three point shot and their ability to win the rebound battle. They’ve also managed to get something from the bench play and I think the Thunder are going to be too good for the Heat who could easily be looking ahead to the return of Dwyane Wade with the Chicago Bulls which is next up on deck.
The Thunder have covered as the favourite in three of the last four against Miami and I will back them to win this one by at least six points.
Handicap Betting Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder – 5 Points at 1.90 with Bet365
Prices correct at time of writing.