The NBA is back in action tonight after a zero-game slate on Tuesday night, and what better way to get back into the swing of things than by breaking down a game that features arguably the worst team in the league, the Wizards?
Well, there are certainly better ways, but regardless, I have my sites set on the Wizards' matchup with the Charlotte Hornets tonight. Specifically, I’ll be targeting the first-half spread, so I’ll break down why after a preview of the game.
If you’re an NBA team struggling to score, the best thing to do is hope that the Washington Wizards are on your upcoming schedule. On Monday night, the Wizards fell to 1-5 on the season after allowing 146 points to the Philadelphia 76ers, marking the second time this year they’ve allowed 140 or more points in a game. With a stat like that, it is no surprise that they rank dead last in the league in points allowed per game (128.7) and in defensive efficiency rating (120.6).
Opponents have managed an effective field goal percentage of 59.9% on the Wizards, the highest percentage in the league. Whether a team wants to get most of their scoring from beyond the arc or in the paint, they’ve been able to do so against the Wizards' defense. When your opponents are shooting 39.5% from three and averaging 55.3 points in the paint per game, it doesn’t matter how good your offense is, the end result will typically be a loss.
Washington has tried to keep pace with defensive struggles, but even though they are 9th in points per game and 11th in effective field goal percentage, their defensive ineptitude has outweighed their shooting. That said, tonight, they will be playing another bottom-of-the-barrel defensive team in the Charlotte Hornets, who enter this matchup ranked 27th in defensive rating (117.7) and points allowed per game (121.7).
Charlotte is another prime example of an offense with a lot of potential, yet they are still struggling to win games due to their defense. Terry Rozier and his 22 PPG have helped the Hornets rank just outside the top ten in offensive rating, but the team will be without Rozier for the second straight game tonight due to a groin injury.
The Charlotte Hornets' first-half spread is currently set at (-1), and I think they can head into halftime with a nice lead. Washington is 1-5 ATS in the first half this season, while the Hornets are 3-3 ATS and coming off a game in which they outscored the Dallas Mavericks 62-50 in the first half.
Washington has allowed an average of 65 first-half points per game while letting opponents shoot 53.4% from the field, which both rank 30th in their respective categories. Teams have flat-out imposed their will on Washington in the first half, averaging 8.3 threes and 28 points in the paint. That plays right into the strengths of the Hornets since they have the 11th-best 1H three-point shooting percentage and lead the league with 31 first-half points in the paint per game.
While defense has been a problem for the Hornets this season, they are actually allowing the fewest second-quarter points in the league, with an average of 22.3. The Wizards are also top ten in terms of average points in the paint in the first half, but Charlotte is 13th in 1H points in the paint allowed, and I think that should be enough for them to be winning at halftime.
Charlotte Hornets 1H (-1)