The Charlotte Hornets will head to Houston tonight in what will be a battle of two teams hoping for high lottery picks. We’ll preview the matchup before going over which side I’ll be backing.
The Houston Rockets have not won an NBA basketball game since December 26th, making that 11 straight losses entering tonight’s match-up. Over their last ten games, the Rockets' -15 NET efficiency rating is the worst in the league, and to put in perspective how bad their defense has been, they have allowed 121 or more points to be scored six times in that ten-game span.
Offensively the Rockets have shown flashes of potential, but consistently putting it together has become a real issue for the team. Their 108.8 offensive efficiency rating is the second worst in the league over the past ten games, and their 54.6% true shooting percentage is ranked dead last.
Houston isn’t the only team in this match-up struggling recently, as the Charlotte Hornets enter tonight on a five-game losing streak and have a -6.7 NET rating over the last ten games. They are a young team still, but they have shown no improvement on the defensive end of the floor this season.
The Hornets' 120.9 defensive efficiency rating is the third worst in the league over the last ten games, and Houston is one of the teams that is ranked lower than them. Charlotte is without Gordon Hayward and Kelly Oubre due to injury, so the worse their defense gets, the harder it has become for their offense to keep them in the game.
Charlotte attempts the third-most field goals per game this season but is ranked 29th in effective field goal percentage and 28th in three-point percentage. Mason Plumlee has arguably been one of their best offensive weapons as of late, as he has been averaging 16.1 points on 75% shooting from the field over the last ten games.
Both teams enter tonight with exactly 34 losses, but sportsbooks have deemed Charlotte the favorite in this one as they are favored by -2.5 points on the road. I’ll be backing the Hornets as my best bet in this one, as I think they have a slight edge in critical areas like protecting the ball and overall offensive cohesiveness.
The Hornets rank 8th in the league this season in turnovers per game, while the Rockets are turning the ball over more than any team in the league. The hefty amount of turnovers plays perfectly into the fast-paced Hornets, who are 12th in the league in fastbreak points per game. Neither offense is impressive, but if the Hornets can force their average of 7.7 steals per game, then they’ll be able to make up for their lackluster shooting percentages.
Houston’s lack of ball movement will continue to affect them tonight, as they are only averaging 22.1 assists per game which is 29th in the NBA. Charlotte is ranked 13th in assists per game, and if they can play like the more cohesive offense tonight, then they should be able to snap their losing streak.
Charlotte Hornets (-2.5)