The 38-7 Golden State Warriors entertain the 23-22 Charlotte Hornets tonight in a matchup between a title contender and a lower-tier playoff team hoping to gain some ground in the Eastern Conference (8pm ET Wednesday on ESPN).
The highlight of the matchup should be the point guard battle between Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Charlotte’s Kemba Walker.
Both squads are coming off losses that followed winning streaks. The Warriors surprisingly lost to the lowly Miami Heat on Monday night on a game-winning three-pointer by Dion Waiters to snap an eight-game run of wins, and the Hornets dropped a contest to Washington Wizards on Monday to halt their three-game winning streak.
Golden State are strong 9.5-point favorites with the best online betting sites to get back on the winning end of things on Wednesday, but as we learned once again on Monday, anything can happen.
Before we can decide on our betting predictions and picks for this game, our preview will analyze the chief influences that might decide the outcome of this Warriors vs Hornets matchup.
Can the Hornets Dominate the Turnover Battle?
The Hornets’ offense thrives on protecting the ball, as they turn the ball over on just 11.1 percent of their possessions, second-best in the NBA. Golden State, on the other hand, is relatively poor at valuing possessions and turns the ball over on 13.5 percent of its possessions (22nd in the league).
It is true that the Hornets don’t force many turnovers either, but it’s not like most of Golden State’s miscues are forced. The Warriors have a bad habit of trying to get too fancy with their passes, instead of just making the simple decision.
If Golden State gets careless a few too many times on offense and Charlotte executes well on the other end, an upset could be in the cards.
Who Wins the Point Guard Matchup?
Kemba Walker (pictured) has had an All-Star-caliber season as the Hornets’ point guard. His averages of 23.0 points and 5.4 assists per game on solid efficiency are nothing to scoff at.
However, Walker has slipped recently. In his last 10 contests, his shooting slash is just 42.5/39.7/81.3 with 2.9 turnovers per game, compared to a 46.8/42.0/82.5 shooting slash and 2.1 turnovers during the 34 previous contests he has played this season.
Stephen Curry is trending in the opposite direction. His season as a whole has paled in comparison to his unanimous MVP performance of 2015-16, but his play in his last 10 contests has been stellar. He sports averages of 26.9 points and 7.3 assists per game on a true-shooting percentage of 60.5 in that stretch.
If the Hornets plan to hold serve at home on Wednesday, Walker will need to limit Curry’s productivity on one end and create a bunch of offense on the other end.
Will the Warriors’ Long-Range Bombers Catch Fire from Three-Point Range?
The Warriors aren’t as reliant on the three-pointer as some people might think, since they are also an elite defensive team that can grind out wins, if necessary. However, when they do lose, it usually happens in games where they don’t make many of their three-pointers. Golden State hits just 25.7 percent of its downtown attempts in its seven losses.
The Hornets’ defensive strategy is centered around preventing shots in the paint and giving up more outside shots. Not surprisingly, their opponents take the most three-pointers per game in the league (30.8).
We can assume that the Warriors will take plenty of three-pointers Wednesday night, since allowing those is part of Charlotte’s defensive strategy.
Will a lot of those shots by Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant go in? The answer to that question will play a big role in tonight’s outcome.
Our Preview’s Golden State Warriors vs. Charlotte Hornets Betting Picks & Predictions
I have a feeling the Warriors will play much better than they did against the Heat on Monday. Their defensive rotations, passing and overall effort are things they will focus on improving against the Hornets, and Charlotte really has no answer for Golden State’s stacked squad when it is fully engaged.
That said, if the Warriors come out of the gate lazy, the Hornets could make this one close and even steal a win. The Hornets are considerably better at home (15-8) than on the road (8-14), so that could play a factor, too, though Charlotte has been pretty inconsistent as of late. So here are this preview’s picks and betting predictions.
- Most sportsbooks have the Warriors favored by 9.5 points (though this opened up at 7.5pts), and I think taking them to respond well from a shocking loss is the right play here. Bet on Golden State Warriors -9.5pts @ -110 betting odds with 5Dimes, BetOnline or MyBookie. It is currently -115 for the same spread with Bovada Sportsbook.
- The most common over-under for this contest is 222.5pts (from an opening 223.5pts). I have a feeling Golden State will lock up on defense in response to allowing 33 points to Dion Waiters on Monday and make betting the under a smart decision. Go under 222.5pts @ -110 with 5Dimes or BetOnline. Bovada has not published odds on the total points yet.