Charlotte Hornets (12-13) at Memphis Grizzlies (9-10)
Wednesday, February 10th, 8 p.m. EST
FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
The red hot Hornets travel to Memphis to take on the struggling Grizzlies. Which teams should you back to make the winning NBA pick?
Charlotte comes in on a two-game win streak. With blowout wins over Houston and Washington, the Hornets have taken a step forward by beating the teams that they should beat, and doing it easily. We expected Charlotte to be able to score the basketball, but the surprise of the season has been their defense. Charlotte ranks in the top 10 in the NBA for points allowed at 110.4.
Charlotte is led by Gordon Hayward, but the play of LaMelo ball has been the key to their surge. Lamelo is averaging 14.2 points per game and a team-high 6.2 assists game. LaMelo’s passing vision and ability to find teammates for the easy score has been a boon to the Hornets. Although he doesn’t have the prettiest shot, he has the ability to heat up and help the team to go on a huge run. Although he will probably never be a lockdown defender, the defensive effort is there and you can see that he does have the potential to at least be a solid defender.
The Hornets are 6-1 ATS in their last seven Road games and 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven games overall.
The Grizzlies season has been a roller coaster but unfortunately for Memphis fans, the current trajectory is on its way down. They followed a three-game losing streak with a seven-game winning streak before their current four-game losing streak.
The Grizzlies are led by Ja Morant. Morant is a gifted creator and passer. He can score in the mid-range when needed and is an amazing finisher at the rim. Morant is not the reason why this team is losing, the injuries are.
Memphis is still missing Jaren Jackson Jr, who has yet to make his season debut, and Justise Winslow (who knows when he will ever play again). While the team has been able to navigate the season without these two talents, you add the losses of Brandon Clarke and De’Anthony Melton and this team has serious issues with depth. Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins has done a great job with his team, especially during the surprising 7 game win streak, but in the current NBA where teams are overflowing with talent, this team is going to need to get healthy if they’re going to compete.
Gordon Hayward and Kyle Anderson. As much as LaMelo takes all the attention on this squad, Gordon Hayward is key to the Hornets’ success. While Kyle Anderson might not matter as much on the offensive end, the Grizzlies will need a great effort from him defensively if they want to win this game. Both teams switch often, yet I expect Anderson to be on Hayward for most of the game. His ability to slow down the star forward will be crucial. Dillon Brooks and Desmond Bane will also draw some work against Hayward, and it’ll be critical for these three to keep Hayward in check. On the other end, Hayward can be exploited defensively, so this could be an opportunity for Anderson to make a mark in the scoring column, something he doesn’t always do. If Anderson is able to slow down Hayward, as well as be a threat on the offensive end, Memphis can win. If Hayward wins the individual battle and is able to score points in the half-court setting, Charlotte should be able to continue their win streak.
My Pick and Pop
Although I have been impressed with Memphis and the job that coach Taylor Jenkins is done with an injury-plagued roster, I expect Charlotte to continue their win streak in Memphis. Charlotte has a great chance to win this game outright so the four points that the oddsmakers are offering are a gift. Charlotte is playing good team basketball and showing defensive grit. Memphis is a team to keep an eye on as once they get healthy they should be able to make another run. For now, however, I’m going with the healthier Hornets to continue cashing.
NBA Pick: Charlotte Hornets + 4 (-110) BOL