If you have yet to watch the Charlotte Hornets play basketball, I would highly recommend you find time on your schedule to do so. This team is young, fun and actually pretty good.
On Monday, Charlotte came storming back from a 14-point third quarter deficit, and outscored Sacramento 21-8 in the final five minutes to earn its 20th win of the season. The win also gave them the Hornets their fourth consecutive win, and fifth in six games.
Their performance down the stretch against the Kings was something this team has pulled off with regularity this season. Charlotte has a + 57.9 net rating in clutch time this season, and it is 13-5 SU in games which have been within five points in the final five minutes. They are an absolute blast, and right now they are a game ahead of New York for the sixth seed, the final seed guaranteed a spot in the postseason.
Charlotte will not be winning any playoff series this season, but this franchise has been quietly hitting all the right buttons while building this team. The front office has hit in the draft on players like P.J. Washington, Miles Bridges and LaMelo Ball, and they signed solid free agents like Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward. James Borrego has emerged as one of the most unheralded coaches in the league, and all of that has come together to form one of the best stories of the season.
Updated injury reports can be found here.
Updated odds for every game can be found here.
The Main Event
Utah Jazz (-5, 227) at Boston Celtics
Things have gone somewhat sideways for Utah lately. The Jazz are 2-4 SU/1-5 ATS in their last six games, and their defense has taken a step back. Over those six games, Utah has allowed their opponents to shoot 49.2% from the floor and 38.9% from deep, which has led to them allowing 115.9 points every 100 possessions during this slump. Just look at their most recent loss to Golden State. The Warriors’ 24th-ranked offense (109.1 points per 100 possessions on the season) averaged 1.26 points per possession while shooting a combined 33-of-56 (58.9%) at the rim and from deep! Utah is a better team than it has showed lately, but the Jazz face a Boston team that is starting to find its stride on offense -- which might not bode well for Utah's struggling defense.
Over the same six-game sample size, the Celtics have strung together a 5-1 SU/3-3 ATS run with an efficient offense. Boston has averaged 120.6 points every 100 possessions over these six games, and the ball has been moving much more than it has this season overall. The Celtics are averaging 290.8 passes, 25.0 assists and 63.5 assist points created during this run, all of those significantly better than their season-long metrics in those categories. If they can continue this surge on offense then Boston is in a very favorable spot at home against a sliding Utah team.
Keep in mind, tonight is quietly a decent revenge spot for this Celtics team as well. Just over a month ago Boston was in Utah as a 5.5-point underdog, playing without Marcus Smart and on the final game of a West Coast trip. It was a four-point game with three minutes left, but Donovan Mitchell took over, scoring or assisting on the final 17 points for the Jazz and leading them to a win. Now, Boston is back home, where they are 12-5 SU/11-6 ATS with the eighth-best net rating in the league (+ 5.6). They also have Smart back in the fold, but Utah opened up laying the exact same number they were at home a month ago. That was too high, and the market reacted accordingly, driving this toward Boston.