The Charlotte Hornets (8-5) host the San Antonio Spurs (11-3) in a matchup between two defensive-minded playoff contenders (7.05pm ET Wednesday on ESPN). Charlotte is looking to rebound after two straight losses, while the Spurs are hoping to extend a six-game winning streak and maintain their undefeated home record.
The Hornets’ normally stingy defense has slipped in its last two games, losing to the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies, respectively. The Spurs, meanwhile, are winning games, but not by much; the average margin of victory in their winning streak is a mere 6.5 points.
Here we give our preview’s betting predictions and conclude with our Spurs at Hornets picks.
Will Cody Zeller Play?
There are several uncertain injury situations heading up to Wednesday’s contest, and we’ll learn more about each of them as game time nears. The most important one is with Charlotte’s Cody Zeller, who’s dealing with a sore shoulder and has missed the Hornets’ past two games.
After being selected fourth overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, the former Indiana big man has flown under the radar. Many people have already written him off as a bust, but he’s actually turned into a very effective and underrated piece for Charlotte. He is very athletic and attentive on defense and can finish well at the rim.
He can cause a lot more problems for LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol than Roy Hibbert can, because of his quickness.
With the statuses of Christian Wood (ankle) and Frank Kaminsky (ankle) also in question for the Hornets’ frontcourt, having Zeller play would help salvage a big-man rotation that could be very thin on Wednesday night. Unfortunately, it is rather unlikely that Zeller plays against San Antonio.
Will Home-Court Advantage Matter at All?
The most puzzling aspect from the Spurs’ start to the season is how much better they are playing on the road than when at home. San Antonio is 7-0 in opposing teams’ arenas with a plus-12.2 net rating on the season, but just 4-3 with a plus-0.9 net rating at the AT&T Center.
It’s not like the Spurs’ road opponents have been weaker than who they have faced at home, either. The average winning percentage of San Antonio’s road foes is 50, which is actually stronger than that of their home adversaries (45.5).
The Hornets will have to contend with that traveling juggernaut in Wednesday’s contest at Spectrum Arena. Despite Charlotte’s strong 8-5 record, it is a modest 4-3 at home.
If the Hornets are to pull off this victory, their crowd will need to become a factor and affect the home team’s energy. San Antonio is too focused in its execution to fall to a team that isn’t playing inspired ball.
Can Tony Parker Hold His Own Against Kemba Walker?
Like his teammate Zeller, Kemba Walker (pictured) is one of the more underappreciated players at his position. Among point guards, only Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul rank ahead of him in player efficiency rating (plus James Harden, who isn’t classified as a point guard on the linked list).
However, Walker has cooled off from the field in his past few games. In his past three contests, his shooting percentage slash line is just 40.0/21.7/66.7, considerably down from 49.4/47.8/84.1 in his 10 previous games.
Tony Parker, on the other hand, has turned it around after a dreadful start to the season. His last four contests have seen him accumulate 14.3 points and 5.8 assists in 26.5 minutes per game on a blistering 59.0 percent from the field. On Wednesday, he will be coming off of five days of rest, since Gregg Popovich elected to sit him against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday.
As such, the point guard matchup may not be quite as lopsided as it seems on paper. If Parker can hold his own against a better player and the Hornets’ No. 1 offensive option, Walker, San Antonio should cruise to victory in Charlotte.
Meanwhile, if Walker gets hot on offense and can relax against a tentative Parker on defense, the Hornets will be in excellent position to hold serve at home.
Our Preview’s San Antonio Spurs vs Charlotte Hornets Picks & Predictions
San Antonio has a rested Parker and a rested LaMarcus Aldridge (who also sat out Monday’s contest) and the Hornets are seemingly regressing toward the level many predicted for them this season. Combine that with the Spurs’ road dominance, and this matchup simply looks like one between a great team and an average one.
Our preview’s picks and betting predictions for this Spurs v Hornets game are:
- San Antonio is favored to win by four points, which seems generous to the Hornets with Zeller, Kaminsky and Wood all questionably out. The Spurs should win this one by around 10 points. So bet on San Antonio -4pts @ -110 with Bookmaker.eu. It is -115 with BetOnline for the same spread, while Bovada has yet to price this game up, possibly due to those question marks about the line-up.
- The over-under for this contest is posted at 199.5pts with the sportsbooks. The Hornets have slipped on defense recently and will probably be without a key defensive piece in Zeller. San Antonio should be rested and ready to execute well on offense. The Spurs have also given questionable defensive effort in recent games and have that Walker-Parker matchup to worry about, so this game could have a higher score than the best of the USA oddsmakers might think. Take the over 199.5 total points to be scored in the game at -110 with both BetOnline and Bookmaker.eu.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.