Last season, the Golden State Warriors and Charlotte Hornets put on two of the more thrilling NBA games. They would split the series with one win apiece, though Charlotte was the underdog on both occasions.
In their first meeting this season, look for Charlotte to give Golden State another test as a six-point underdog per the NBA betting odds
Golden State (5-1) sits atop the Pacific Division, the NBA’s premier division. Credit this to Steph Curry and company as they combine some hot shooting with a consistently solid defense. Charlotte (5-3), on the other hand, is overachieving a little and even holds wins over Portland and Brooklyn. It will look for its fourth upset as it visits Golden State.
Game of the Night: Hornets Invade Golden State
The Warriors are the understandable favorites per Vegas’ NBA odds. The team is a lot more popular than Charlotte and, even with a 3-3 against the spread (ATS) record, Golden State is the “sexier” team to back. But Charlotte has the record and the goods to bust the chalk here.
The Underdog: Hornets Are Streaky
Despite more national TV coverage and the addition of a rising star in LaMelo Ball, oddsmakers continue to undersell Charlotte. The Hornets can be a money train as an underdog, having won three of their five games as dogs, while maintaining a 3-1 record against the spread on the road.
Charlotte can really stink up the joint to start the game: they rank second-worst in the NBA in first half net rating. But they tend to turn it up several notches in the second-half, with an NBA-best +25.8 net rating. The team even managed to come back against the Miami Heat, arguably the league’s best team in the NBA.
Even if we like Charlotte, we can’t ignore that this team gives up the second-most points in the first half (63.7). Against a hot starting Warriors team, this game’s first-half will be a much higher scoring one than the next and is worth the prop bet online.
Pick: Highest Scoring Half – 1st Half -160
Player To Watch: Kelly Oubre Jr. has been the embodiment of the Hornets’ hot-and-cold habit. But the former Warrior can have a big game against his old crew. The “revenge game” narrative may be played out, but look for Oubre to at least exceed his season averages of 14.5 points and five rebounds.
Pick: Kelly Oubre Jr. (CHA) Totals Points+Rebounds+Assists – Over 15½ (-125)
The Favorite: Curry Starts The Warriors
As Curry goes, so do the Warriors’ offense. Golden State is playing at a peak level this season and that’s due to starting off fast. Golden State is scoring the most quarter points at 33.2. Chalk this up to Curry’s hot shooting, as the NBA’s leading scorer has 9.9 of his 28.7 points in the first half.
Curry is also averaging a 72% effective field goal rate in the first quarter. However, his efficiency drops for the rest of the game. Golden State’s secondary scoring also leaves much to be desired as the team becomes the worst-scoring unit in second halves.
Fortunately, Golden State has been playing some topnotch defense (third in the NBA). It’s this defense, led by Draymond Green, that has pushed Golden State to the top of the Western Conference.
Pick: First To Score 20 Points – Warriors -170
Player To Watch: Green is to the Warriors’ defense as Curry is to their offense. The former Defensive Player of the Year is having a renaissance season and should be able to put up lofty numbers against a small Hornets team. Green averages 8.7 boards to lead Golden State. Bank on him to go well over that against Charlotte.
Pick: Draymond Green (GSW) Total Rebounds – Over 8½ (-120)
Our Pick To Win…
This all depends on how well the Golden State Warriors can build and keep their lead against Charlotte. The Warriors should be able to build a sizable lead in the first half. They will put their top-three defense in the second half against Charlotte’s top-rated offense.
Golden State has the best player in the game in Curry, but the Hornets possess better scoring all-around. Even if the likes of Ball and Gordon Hayward have subpar performances, players like Miles Bridges, Terry Rozier, and Oubre can pick up the slack. In what should be a race to the finish, we like Charlotte as close to a 2-1 underdog here.
Pick: Charlotte Hornets +190